One thing that people should get use to in the age of computers is that the bad guys will find new and innovative ways to get personal data from you. They will go to any lengths to receive this data.
As a society, we have still not gotten use to this concept and we leave traces of personal information around for the bad guys to use.
One of the ways that bad guys are able to get your personal information is through the use of computers that have been disposed of. People will throw away their computers without erasing their data off of it. They think that they are not important enough and that no one will dig in the trash can for it.
If the person does erase their data off of the computer, they only do a superficial erase. They only erase the files and folders that the average user knows about. This is not enough and can still lead to your personal data being exposed.
As we said earlier, before you throw away your computer you should erase all of your files off of the hard drive.
But you may be under the misconception that erasing all of your data only consist of hitting delete and maybe emptying the recycle trash bin on your desktop. No, there is more to it than that.
When you press delete on your old files, they are actually still stored on the computer’s hard drive. The pressing of delete only means that the computer now has permission to overwrite the files. So the data that you placed on the computer will still be there until there is new data that will overwrite it.
There are special programs that will wipe a computer completely clean when you erase a file. This is the type of program that you will need to use when you are throwing away your computer since if you do not, the data is still retrievable.
Also before you throw away your computer, you need to do a complete format of your hard drive.
Most users of the computer do not know about how an operating system works. The operating system will store data in different places in its file structure, a lot of these places the user will not even know about. If you are just erasing files that you personally stored on the computer, then you are leaving a lot of personal data on your computer to be discovered. This includes old cookies to sites that you may have visited, such as a banking or brokerage sites.
If you do not do a complete format of your hard drive, then again, all of this data is still retrievable.
You must be aware of the dangers that leaving your unformatted hard drive in the hand of strangers can lead to.
There are several programs that are out there that will help alleviate this problem by doing a government styled wipe of your computers data. Once you have done this, it should be relatively safe to throw out or donate your old computer.