Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Computers & InternetSecurity · 1 decade ago

How to give away old computers without risking identity theft from the personal id info on your hard drive?

We just upgraded our computers and were about to donate the old computers to Salvation Army when our neighbor advised us to destroy the hard drives and hence the files in the hard drive before we do so. Seems to be such a waste of still very good computers. Any way out of this? Is there a software that will delete personal and other files in the hard drive?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Free & effective enough to permanently erase data ... unless you are donating them to the FBI forensics lab ... LOL (even then ...small chance).

    http://dban.sourceforge.net/

    Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot floppy 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.

    regards,

    Philip T

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  • Chip
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    First of all, destroying the hard drives doesn't mean you have to destroy the entire computer. I think you are confusing the word "hard drive" for that big box you plug your monitor and mouse into. That's not the hard drive, that's the computer. The hard drive is a device inside the computer which stores data. You can destroy it without destroying the rest of the machine.

    That being said, yes, you can erase all the information off of it without actually destroying it if you want to. There is plenty of tools available for free on the internet, just go to Yahoo and type in "free hard drive erasing software".

    You can also physically destroy the drive. Remove it from the computer, and destroy it as you see fit (personally I like blowing them up, but thats just me) Just however you decide to destroy it, make sure the metal platters inside are destroyed, or at least de-magnetized.

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  • 1 decade ago

    As several have suggested, Darik's Boot and Nuke is an excellent, easy to use method. It meets DOD standards for Confidential and Secret documents. There are a few computer forensics experts who can retrieve data even from that, but you can consider that pretty safe. If you want to be 100% certain nothing can ever be recovered, you have to physically destroy the hard drive and either donate the computers without hard drives or buy new hard drives (they aren't that expensive these days).

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  • 1 decade ago

    Your neighbor is right. The hard drive still has a great deal of information on it. You can reformat the hard drive but data can still be retrieved. The best solution is to use a hard drive sanitizer which wipes the hard drive clean. There are several free ones available. I like the free and very easy Eraser by Heidi Software. The download link is http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/download.php

    There is an excellent article on PC World Magazine on the matter of hidden information on a supposedly clean hard drive.

    "Hard Drives Exposed: We bought or salvaged ten used drives and found sensitive business and personal data on all but one." -- written by Tom Spring, pcworld.com. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,110012-page,1/ar...

    "Even when people reformat the hard drive, a motivated sleuth can retrieve data using tools such as Norton SystemWorks' Disk Editor or the free Disk Investigator.

    We did this on a drive purchased at the Super Computer Sale (a traveling computer fair), and uncovered research, e-mail messages, and a log of Web sites visited by employees at Fairfax Financial Holdings of Ontario, Canada.

    "It shouldn't have happened," said Brad Martin, Fairfax's vice president of investor relations. "We are going to make sure that something like this never happens again." "

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  • Carole
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    10 minutes in a 250 degree oven won't even ruin the electronics on a hard drive. 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven would cook the electronics, but the data on the platters will be as good as it ever was. To ruin a hard drive, just remove it, and place any large magnet (20 oz. or larger) on the drive. Leave it for awhile, and it's completely safe to throw away. That will not only destroy the electronics, it will destroy all of the magnetized data, also, and make it completely unrecoverable, by anyone.

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  • 1 decade ago

    DBAN is the way to go as others have said. As for formatting the drive, this is still going to leave files behind that are easily recovered. I recently threw out a box of old hard drives and decided to render them useless with a vice and hammer.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Get BootNuke.

    It will pretty much render the data unattainable to anyone that doesn't have a PhD in Computer Science or is just a super geek with 90 hours to spend scouring over the blank data then 2 weeks to partially reassemble it.

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/dban/

    http://dban.sourceforge.net/

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You will need to format your c: drive on each computer to wipe it clean. By doing this you will also wipe all of windows off also and it will need to be reinstalled. Its the best way to get rid of any info on your PCs but it could prove to be time consuming

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Format the hard drives or take them out.

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  • 1 decade ago

    format all the hard-disk-drives in the computer. if you do it correctly, the computer can still be used. though you have to re-install an operating system.

    Hope this helps, Peace.

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