Many of us create and save files every day, right? But often, when we save a file, we don’t think about what is going on behind the screen or inside the computer. Most of us just see the file as a line item or icon in a list of other documents.
What actually happens when you save a file is the file is scattered across the hard drive in pieces. When you recall and open the file, the hard drive gathers the pieces back up again and displays them on the screen. When the file is deleted, all of the links to the pieces that create the file disappear. However, the actual pieces still remain on the hard drive until they are overwritten. Because the data still remains on the computer, the data can still be recovered; this is important to understand when you start to consider personal and electronic security.
Getting Rid of the Old “Stuff”
When the time comes to upgrade or replace your electronic equipment, be sure to clean the hardware and remove all of the personal and sensitive data completely. Here’s why. A great deal of sensitive information could be stored on your computer — passwords, account numbers and tax returns, to name a few. Sensitive information such as this should be completely removed from the device in order to protect yourself and your identity. You will want to make sure this data is completely cleared off of your computer before disposing of it so someone else cannot retrieve the files. Remember, this goes beyond deleting the file from the document list.
Getting Rid of the Hard Drive
You could go so far as removing the hard drive yourself and physically destroying it, but there are simpler ways to protect your data. There are programs available where computers are sold and also on the internet that will clear your hard drive for you. These programs take those pieces of data you wish to clear and turn them into the computer language of zeros and ones. Examples of such programs include WipeDrive, KillDisk and Softpedia DP Wiper. Some programs will wipe your hard drive clean once, while others will wipe it clean more. The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual provides guidelines that hard drives be cleaned three times in order to be considered fully clean.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…Or Sell
Another option is to check with the manufacturer or retailer you bought your computer from for a “trade-back” option or recycling programs for computers or computer parts. Many electronic parts contain lead (in CRT monitors), mercury (in small fluorescent lamps, batteries, switches), nickel and cadmium (circuit boards). Due to the damage computer parts can cause the environment, companies will collect the electronics through the program and properly dispose of them for you. Manufacturers and retailers that carry programs are: Apple, HP, Dell, Circuit City and Best Buy, among others.
Alternatively, you could earn some money back on your investment by selling your device to computer dealers, pawn shops or online on Craigslist, eBay or the Facebook Marketplace. Be especially sure to clean your hard drive when selling directly to another person.
There are many ways to responsibly dispose of or recycle old computer hardware. Whichever method you choose, take the necessary steps to make sure the hardware is as clean as possible, clear of personal, sensitive information. In this technological age, data and information collection is increasingly easier. It is important to take the necessary steps in order to protect your identity. For more tips on disposal and all of your IT consulting needs, contact CMIT Solutions of Centreville.
CMIT Solutions of Centreville provides a strategic approach to IT consulting that improves performance of your business technology in the most cost-effective way possible. Assisting businesses in Centreville, Chantilly, Dulles, Gainesville, Manassas and Haymarket, we can help you achieve the fastest return on your technology investment. Call 703-881-7738 today to see how we can help your business stay in business.