Discover why putting computer files in your recycle bin and emptying it is not enough to ensure that your hard drive is free of any identifying information.
You may wonder, however, how to make sure that all the data that’s stored on the old computer are safely and thoroughly deleted.
Can I Just Delete Files Off My Computer?
The familiar garbage can in the corner of our PCs is a visible reminder of how easy it is to delete files. However, when wanting to fully clear your hard drive, don’t just move files to your garbage can and empty it. While that’s a good first step, emptying your trash can does not eliminate the files.
When you delete a file or empty the garbage bin, all you do is remove the header, or reference, information from the file. That means the computer can’t find the file. However, it’s still on your hard drive, it’s just not readable by the computer. Data recovery software can be used to find the file again, as long as another file or portion of a file has been saved in the same location.
What Are the Risks of Not Completely Erasing Your Hard Drive?
If you don’t erase your hard drive correctly, you risk having your personal information that had previously been deleted exposed and available. That can mean account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers and other identifying information. Your identity can be stolen or finances adversely affected by a hacker who uses or sells your data.
If you use a laptop or desktop computer that has a traditional hard drive, data can be recovered from that drive even after it’s been reformatted and had a new operating system installed. Why? Reinstalling an operating system does not erase every sector of the hard drive disk.
What Is the Best Way to Safely Erase a Hard Drive?
You want to be sure that any old data on your computer is completely erased and that the hardware is safe to be sold, passed on or disposed of. To do so requires a specific software program designed to do a complete erasure.
CCleaner is a reputable utility used regularly by technology companies. It can be used to fully clean out data on your hard drive or to optimize the performance of your computer. When getting a clean hard drive is necessary, CCleaner completely wipes away any data that hasn’t been completely removed otherwise.
While using CCleaner’s Drive Wiper feature can be time-consuming, it ensures that those free areas on your hard drive are completely wiped, making it impossible to recover deleted files.
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