Skip to main content

Old Computers and Sensitive Information

Photo credit: mike73 from

Have an old computer that you are ready to give away, sell or dispose?  Most likely you will have sensitive information on that machine.. maybe emails, passwords, financial records, tax returns?  What can you do to keep this information from getting into the wrong hands?

A word to the wise:

  • You cannot just delete your files and empty the recycle bin.
  • You cannot just format the hard drive.
  • You cannot just format and reinstall the operating system.

In each of these cases, your files can be recovered.

There are four ways to make your hard drive files completely unrecoverable and your data safe from being compromised.

  1. You can remove the hard drive and physically destroy it.  You would need to completely destroy the individual plates and not just the hard drive case. It is amazing what can be recovered on a hard drive by experts. This requires power tools, chemicals or you can purchase a kit called DiskStroyer: Hard Disk Destruction Kit.  
  2. You can choose to degauss the hard drive. This is a process that uses a reverse magnetic field to scramble the electronic data and make it unreadable. Unfortunately, this machinery is expensive so you would have to contact a professional to provide this service.
  3. There are a wide range of free and commercial utilities, such as Active@ KillDisk that will erase your data by overwriting the entire drive.  If you are comfortable with changing your boot drives to a USB (by going into the bios) you can erase your information. Please keep in mind that this will also erase the operating system, but of course, you backed that up when you first purchased the computer, right? (Step one... always back up your operating system.)   If you aren't comfortable with doing this on your own, contact your local tech person, such as McAllister Park Design (shameless plug).
  4. Last, if you didn't heed the warning to backup your operating system, you might want to consider software that virtually shreds your files.  Programs such as Shred 4, claim to make data completely unrecoverable. Now, you have to be sure you have removed all the files. File shredder software only secures data that is being or has been discarded. 
If you have a Mac, it comes with a file shredder type/secure deletion program built in.To securely delete a folder or file, move it to the trash can and from the Finder menu select 'Secure Empty Trash'.


Popular posts from this blog

"Hello, This is Bridget (Or Rachel) from Card Holder Services"

When it comes to running a business, the last thing you need is to be inundated with junk phone calls and the number one pest is "Card Holder Services". Matter of fact, the FTC considers "Bridget from Card Holder Services" to be Enemy #1 . Well, the FTC may not have solved this ongoing problem but I have found help from the customer reviews at I searched online, then narrowed it down to a couple of options. I was very excited when I found the CPR Call Blocker capable of blocking 1200  (yes, 1200) numbers. Robocallers can change their number and I still can block them!  I reduced the robocallers to my business line within a couple of days of adding this device. CPR Call Blocker V108 - 1200 Number Capacity - World #1 - Block Telemarketing Calls Now! ( Affiliate Link but personal review without any payment. Just passing on a great tip!) The setup took about 15 minutes for me (some said it only took a couple of minutes in the reviews). The ins

Things you DON'T want on your website

Now, this admission will reveal my age.  I have been a part of designing websites through ~every single aspect~ shown on this infographic chart from Who Is Hosting This . Click here to view the infographic. You may need to click again on the image to make it large enough to read. From gradients to web counters, I have done them all. Take my advice and do not ask me to add these things to your website unless you are wanting a "retro" look. Except maybe drop shadows, I like drop shadows. They may have their place depending on the design.☺

Washable Computer Keyboards

There is almost always a cup of coffee on my desk. Yes, ALWAYS.  But there is a risk. Once a keyboard is wet, it is a gonner.. toast, terminated. When my daughter was much younger, in elementary school, she was home after school and wanted to help clean house so she took my proprietary keyboard from my Amstrad 8086 Dual Floppy computer (now a museum piece). and washed it.  As in, put it in a sink of soapy dish water and washed it.  It was very expensive to replace the micro-controller for that keyboard let me tell you! Well, it isn't really new but there are some washable keyboards on the market now.  Logitech has a the scrubbable, submersible, spill-proof, K310 Keyboard that has pretty good reviews.  Kensington K64407US Pro also has a washable keyboard with anti-microbial protection for a little bit less money.  There are also washable mice but those are usually covered in silicone which I personally would prefer to not hold onto throughout the day. I did find the Seal Sh