Before You Sell or Recycle Your Computer

Greg Lamb wrote an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor that should make all of us stop and think before selling or recycling a computer.  In a recent research project, the research team bought 300 used machines from several sources including ebay.  They found that about one-third of them still contained personal or business data on the hard drives.  This was even true of computers recycled by large corporations, hospitals, anhd government service providers. 

The biggest mistake that we can make is to assume that all the files are gone on the hard drive once they’re put in the trash bin and deleted.  The truth is that the “actual data remains intact on the hard drive. There are programs designed to find this data and easily recreate the original information.”

To really erase all the data from a hard drive, you have two choices

  • Totally destroy the hard rvie with a hammer
  • Using software

Two things that don’t work are formatting or partitioning the hard drive which just moves the data around even though Windows warns you that it will be erased.  “There are several free programs that will do a good job of erasing a hard drive,” the article continues. One is an open-source program at  Two programs that can be purchased are DriveScrubber and Lavasoft’s FileShredder.

Identity thief is more prevalent than ever.  You can help prevent theft of your information by taking the necessary precautions before you sell or recycle that old computer.

1 thought on “Before You Sell or Recycle Your Computer”

  1. I’m surprised that more people aren’t aware of this. How else do the tech people retrieve “lost” data from machines that have crashed, been drowned, etc.?

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