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Can’t I Just Throw My Hard Drive Out?

Can’t I Just Throw My Hard Drive Out?

Various major organizations of the country including the Federal government have been the target of data breaches. To ensure that you don’t compromise the details of any entities connected to your business, you should use optimum measures to make it impossible for hackers to decipher the data on your hard drives.  It is also critical to managing financial risk and risk to your organization’s reputation.  This article covers some top reasons of why you want to dispose of your hard drives properly.

What Is the Real Risk? 

When you are ready to dispose of old computer equipment, you may choose to donate it, sell it or simply trash it. In order to do this effectively, you don’t want to just move all your files to the garbage can icon, you actually want to ensure that the files and data are gone entirely.  If you don’t erase your hard drive properly, you risk exposing sensitive personal data that you previously deleted –data like:

  • social security numbers
  • account numbers
  • passwords
  • etc.

Is Erasing a Hard Drive the Right Way?

Simply erasing all the data on your hard drive and formatting it is not enough security. You can spend hours going through your hard drive and deleting all the files and documents you want, but using the delete key on your keyboard in Windows will only remove the shortcuts to the files making them invisible to users. Deleted files still reside on the hard drive and anyone can simply do a system recovery with software that allows them to reinstate that data.

Formatting the hard drive is a bit more secure than simply erasing the files. Formatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the address tables. It makes it much more difficult to recover the files. However, a computer specialist would be able to recover most or all the data that was on the disk before the reformat.

Being able to recover most or all the data that was on the disk is a good thing if you accidentally reformatted a hard drive, however, if you're preparing a system for retirement to charity or any other organization, this obviously makes you more vulnerable to data theft.

For some businesses and individual users, a disk format may be something you consider secure enough, depending, of course, on the type of data and information you saved to your computer.  If the data stored is not sensitive data and cannot lead to identity theft in any way, then a disk format might be a good choice, but do a full format rather than a quick format.


Even more secure than reformatting is a process called disk wiping.  The term disk wiping is not only used in reference to hard drives but any storage device such as CDs, RAIDS, flash drives, and other storage devices. Disk wiping is a secure method of ensuring that data, including company and individually licensed software on your computer and storage devices, is irrecoverably deleted before recycling or donating the equipment.

When you’re dealing with confidential data and information, here are some top reasons you want to dispose of your hard drives properly:

- Any determined hacker who has the expertise, time, and tools can get access to the saved information on your disks.

- Your company hard drives may contain sensitive information such as price lists, intellectual property, engineering plans, and internal communication memos. They may also have passwords, and confidential facts and figures, among others. You’ll want this information protected from reaching your competitors.

- You might store confidential data such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card details, and insurance provider details. This information helps you provide efficient services to your employees, clients, and partnering companies. You would not want to this information compromised.

- If any confidential data were to fall into the hands of hackers, you risk losing the trust of your employees, partners, customers, and the community.  You risk your company’s reputation.

At navitend we consult with our clients on the proper way to dispose of their computer equipment so they can sleep better at night knowing that their organization's customers and reputation are protected.

If you want more security tips, check out our navitend blog or feel free to call Patrice at 973-448-0070 ext 312. 

Contact us at 973.448.0070


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