Wipe Old Data

Old Data

You’ve upgraded your electronic devices, and you’re planning to sell or donate your old equipment.

Just make sure that you clean out all your sensitive data before you do so.

The Naked Security blog recently offered up a cautionary tale of why it’s essential  to take this important step. A Canadian used-computer dealer claims to have a pile of data which he pulled off servers originally belonging to an international professional-services firm. He and that company are now in court battling over the disposition of that data.

Need more convincing? USA Today reported that Robert Siciliano, an identity-theft expert for security firm McAfee, bought 30 used devices off Craiglists. Half the devices were thoroughly wiped clean, while the other half still maintained such data as bank account and Social Security numbers to work documents and bank records.

A recent survey by Internet security company AVG revealed that nearly 60 percent of Americans use three or more Internet-connected devices at home across three different operating systems. Those collect a lot of sensitive data over a short period of time.

So what can the average person or company do when retiring an older machine?:

Personal computers:

You’ve decided to recycle your old laptop or desktop. The simplest and most secure solution is to physically remove the hard drive. It can then be installed in your new computer or put in a USB hard drive enclosure to be used as a backup or portable storage.

If that’s beyond your skill set, commit to a secure wipe. That starts with backing up anything you value from the hard drive on your old machine onto an external hard drive or an online backup service, generically known as “the cloud.”

Next perform a secure wipe. Among the more popular data-destruction programs are DBAN (http://sourceforge.net/projects/dban/), CBL Data Shredder (http://www.cbldatarecovery.com/data-shredder/download) and ErAce (http://sourceforge.net/projects/erace/). These programs not only delete the data, but overwrite it a certain number of times, making the data much more difficult to retrieve.

This process can take hours and even days, depending on the size of the drives, so allow sufficient time for the process.

Also be sure to remove any portable storage, such as DVDs or flash drives.

HCP can take care of all of this for you. Contact us at http://www.hcp4biz.com/support-request/.

Mobile devices:

  • First, transfer whatever information you wish to save to your new device. Then use the factory reset to wipe your old device. For more specialized directions for your particular device, check your owner’s manual or look for such information online from the manufacturer.
  • Second, remove or erase SIM and SD cards.
  • Finally, double check your phone book, call logs, voicemails, emails and text messages, downloads and other folders, search histories and personal photos.

For gaming consoles, start with the standard factory reset, then remove or securely erase any media cards. Check your owner’s manual or go online for specialized directions for your console.

Remember, a little time invested in obliterating your precious information can save you time and money in the long run.


For help with a computer problem, visit http://www.hcp4biz.com/support-request/.