How safe would you feel to discover your bank account info, old emails, and browser history are accessible to someone else? Of course, it could be the recent buyer of your computer, but still, personal information is not safe unless you or someone you authorize has stored it securely.
It is common to delete personal information when selling or giving away a computer. It is also common to reformat computers when selling them. But, pressing the delete button or formatting is never enough. A computer expert with knowledge of recovery software can easily access the information in the hard drive.
Cybercriminals can and do use this kind of information to invade your privacy. Often, privacy invasion in computers is frustrating. In addition, it results in loss of funds and time in resolving frauds associated with cyberattacks. But if you follow these steps, you can protect your data through secure wiping of the hard drive.
Have you ever lost your contacts list or, worse, your overloaded schedule? You searched and searched, praying the next place you looked would finally reveal the vital missing data? This can happen if essential personal information is lost during the wiping of the computer hard drive.
To save yourself from the frustrations of losing essential data, it is advisable to back up the information you want to keep. Choose online backup sites, external hard drives, or new computers to store the data.
If you have backed up your data regularly using online services, little or no extra backup is necessary. However, regular backups are always advisable because these also help in data recovery when your computer is stolen, infected with malware, or crashes.
When you choose an external hard drive for storage, you enjoy the convenience of large storage spaces. Using reputable online backup sites and cloud storage gives the benefit of convenience, security, and fewer possibilities of access by cybercriminals. When using online backup systems, your information is encrypted, and the physical location does not show. This security setup makes it difficult for cybercriminals to access your saved data.
During your backup routine, remember to download drivers for the operating system you wish to reinstall. Ensure you download the latest drivers by visiting the systems’ website for the latest updates. Also, save program serial numbers from activating purchased software after reinstallation.
The internet offers a variety of programs for wiping computer hard drives. If you are not an expert in cleaning a hard drive, your best choice is an easy-to-use and widely recommended program.
Most data destruction tools are free and work by overwriting the erased programs with zeros or information that data recovery software cannot read. In addition, the programs allow you to confirm that data is deleted, thus, ensuring a complete wipe of the hard drive.
You can choose a data destruction program like DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke). DBAN is a free tool and is widely used. Here are the steps on how to wipe a computer hard drive with DBAN.
Download the ISO file to a computer that can burn it into a bootable device such as a CD or flash drive. Burning an ISO file to a CD may or may not be easy since it requires a different process than burning regular CDs. But, there are many free CD burning programs online that ensure the proper transfer of ISO files. Also, you can choose to download the ISO file to a USB flash drive. However, using a flash drive means loss of data that was previously stored.
First, insert the CD or flash drive onto which the ISO file was downloaded. Next, restart the computer and wait for access to the DBAN software. If the system works well, the blue DBAN screen will appear. If not, consider allowing your computer to boot from a CD, DVD, or USB drive by changing your BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) settings or rebooting the startup screen.
If the computer boots but still the DBAN screen does not appear, repeat the process and look closely for the startup menu. When the menu bar appears, press the [J] and [K] keys. A new menu will display indicating the hard drive to be deleted. Select it by pressing the [Space bar].
It is also possible the above process can fail. If it happens, you can change the boot menu from the BIOS. From your computer, go to Windows Settings>Update and Security > Recovery > Advanced Setup>Restart.
On the next screen, go to Troubleshoot>Advanced Options>UEFI Settings>Restart. You can now access the BIOS system and change the settings to allow the running of CD and flash drives.
Also, note that it is possible to access the BIOS setup menu from the reboot screen. You will have to reboot your computer and wait for the right list to appear before pressing [Enter]. After that, you can access the BIOS menu and change options to access the CD or flash drive boot menu.
After booting to the DBAN screen, the next step is to press the [Enter] key. The next screen highlights the data that needs manual erasing and press the [Space bar]. This automatically places the [Wipe] option on the selection box. Confirm that the information is right and press [F10] to begin. That marks the start of the erasing procedure that usually takes some time. The time depends on the size of the files to be erased.
The process needs to run without interruptions until the completion screen appears. The screen always displays the time left and the percentage completed in the erasing. If the erasure is successful, the word [pass] shows in green. If not, the word [ERROR] appears in red. For the latter, a repeat process should be done, or other alternatives sought.
The resetting of a computers’ operating system involves rewriting the whole hard drive. A reset means removing the current operating system before installing a new one or reinstalling the existing system. It is an alternative method recommended if the use of data wiping tools fails. In fact, a reset computer is safe for giving to close friends and family members. This method is also recommended if you will still own the computer.
There are many benefits to wiping a computer hard drive. Most interests relate to ensuring your personal or business information is protected from cybercriminals. If you are selling or giving a computer away, the risk of cyberattacks is real. Keep your information safe by wiping your computer hard drives. Take the right steps towards the safe disposal of every computer you own.