Over the last few weeks we’ve had several letters from readers who wanted to know the best way to delete data from their hard drives before selling their computers or giving them to someone. It’s a good question because giving your computer to someone – or selling it – may expose very personal information about you – including credit card numbers, passwords, and other information you’d rather not have someone else see.
We’ve been reading some articles in which individuals have sold their computers and then found someone had stolen their identity by using a $98 forensics tool to dig data off the computer’s hard drive. We were surprised to learn wiping techniques like those used by the freeware program Eraser, aren’t even good enough to stymie a relatively cheap $98 data recovery program. Everything you’ve ever put on your hard drive, everything you’ve ever looked at on your computer, every word you’ve ever read or typed, everything you’ve seen and done – is still on your computer’s hard drive. And most everything on your hard drive can be recovered using a professional forensic recovery program.
Now you might be giving your computer to someone you completely trust – but what if they sell that computer? If you sell your computer, are you going to know the person who’s buying it?
We’ve done a lot of research on this topic. We’ve found a free software program that many experts recommend as the only program that will completely remove every bit of data from your hard drive so that no forensics recovery software can recover any data from it.
If you’re going to sell your computer or give it away, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you’ve completely wiped the hard drive with a program called DBAN (Derek’s Boot and Nuke). It’s the only one that most experts agree completely erases all data so nothing can be recovered from your hard drive(s). If you’re selling your computer or giving it away, use DBAN to wipe the drive, then reinstall Windows. No one is going buy a computer without an operating system. If you’re giving it away, you’ll want to reinstall the operating system before you give it to them.
Here is some important information about the freeware program DBAN:
Derik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.
DBAN is a means of ensuring due diligence in computer recycling, a way of preventing identity theft if you want to sell a computer, and a good way to totally clean a Microsoft Windows installation of viruses and spyware. DBAN prevents or thoroughly hinders all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis.
DBAN is a free software product that can be used at home or in a business at zero cost. The only official place to obtain DBAN is by download at this web site. We do not sell DBAN media.
Warning! Do not use this program on your computer – or you intend to keep using! It will wipe everything off your hard drive! Use it before you sell or give your computer away – and AFTER you’ve saved everything you want to save from it.