3 Tips to Permanently Delete Files From a Hard Drive

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Today we are going to be discussing how to wipe a hard drive to protect your data.  If you’ve ever sold a computer or bought a used computer, chances are that data was and still on that hard drive.  Truly wiping a hard drive requires specific tactics that I’ll be discussing today.  By the end of this episode, you’ll have the knowledge and guidance to really wipe your data off a hard drive.

Deleting Files:

When someone wants to delete something from their computer, they usually right-click on a file and click delete.  If they want to be extra cautious, they’ll then go to their recycling bin on their computer and empty that out.  And that’s pretty much it right.  The file is gone and cannot be retrieved anymore.  This would be great if this was what actually happened.  Let me tell you what actually happens when you do this.  Every file on your computer is nothing more than a collection of 0’s and 1’s.  Your computer knows where your files reside on your hard drive and when you want to access those files, your computer goes to the location of the file and retrieves it for you.  When you delete a file from your computer using the steps mentioned above, all you did was simply tell your computer to forget where that file lives, but the file is actually still there.  Deleting the file doesn’t actually remove the file from your hard drive.  With specialized free software, you can easily retrieve the file because this software will find the 0’s and 1’s and put the file back together.  If you really want to delete a file from your hard drive, deleting the file and emptying your recycling bin is not enough to get the job done.

DoD Wipe:

The most effective way to delete a file from your computer is to manipulate the 0’s and 1’s that are on your hard drive.  There are a couple of ways of doing this but the most common way is known as a DoD wipe.  Using specialized software, a DoD wipe is when a hard drive is overwritten three times. The first wipe changes all the bits in a hard drive to 0’s.  The second wipe will change them all to 1’s.  Finally, the third wipe will randomly change the bits to 0’s or 1’s.  After successfully wiping the drive three times, any data that was previously on the hard drive will be unretrievable.  This is because the 0’s and 1’s that used to make up your files have been manipulated so much that they cannot form the original document anymore.  Before you sell a computer or get rid of a hard drive, make sure you wipe it using this method.    

Physical Destruction:

The final method is the most drastic, but the most effective.  Physically remove the hard drive with your sensitive data and find a hammer or drill.  Take the hard drive, place it in a vise or something that can support the drive and start physically destroying the hard drive.  Physical destruction is the only way you can 100% guarantee that your data cannot be recovered should someone else get their hands on it.  It is very drastic and once you do it, there is no going back.  But, if you are looking for some peace of mind and you want to be absolutely certain that no one is going to be able to retrieve your files, this is the only way to go.   

There you have it.  Your how to wipe your data from a hard drive guide 101. Which of these methods are you currently implementing? Are you thinking of implementing a new tactic that you might now have known about? One last thing I want to leave you with.  When it comes to completely deleting your files from a hard drive to the point of no recovery, remember that it is best to simply destroy the hard drive.  This is the only way that you are going to guarantee that no one will ever be able to retrieve any data on that device.


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