When it's time to get rid of an old computer, whether you are a business or an individual, you need to take steps to secure the hard drive – and that means ensuring it's completely destroyed so that less than honest people are not able to get your personal or work information from the drive. Also, check out our guide to shredding medical documents for more information about medical document destruction.
Criminals love finding hard drives. Even if you think you erased it, there are programs that are able to recover the data. Anything from old emails to your social security number will give a criminal a toe into the door of your life, making it easier to steal your identity.
One hard drive may contain hundreds of thousands of files from old emails to pictures and hidden files that contain identifying information. Passwords are often stored on your hard drive, and if you're the type who uses one or four for everything, you might as well give an identity thief the keys to your house and bank account.
Simply erasing or formatting the hard drive is not enough. When you delete everything, the files are still there – you just can't see them. However, a thief knows this and has software that will retrieve those files. In some cases, formatted hard drives may also be restored.
Beating the hard drive with a hammer is not necessarily the most effective way to destroy the data, either. The data is still there, and some files or parts of files may be recovered. In fact, the best way to destroy hard drives is to use more than one method, including hard drive shredding.
As technology becomes more advanced, so does data recovery methods. When you own a business, especially in the legal or medical field, or if you often work from home in many of the fields that require you to store other person's or entity's information, you need to have a sure-fire way of destroying data that no longer needs to be kept.
Since data recovery is much better than it has been in recent years and is expected to get even better, you should destroy hard drives using more than one method. Data may even be recovered from seriously damaged hard drives.
If you think that because you never accessed a bank account or stored a social security number on your computer you're safe, think again. A competitor would love to get a hold of your customer lists, sales figures, engineering data, price list, bidding prep memos, personal and confidential emails, your birth date, the name of your bank and any other type of information that may be used to steal your identity or hurt your business. Furthermore, if you are a business, your customers/clients expect you to keep their personal information confidential. If it ever gets out that a less-than-savory person obtained that information, you could open yourself up to a lawsuit.
If you are an individual, you may want to format or wipe the hard drive and then have it shredded. If you are a business, especially one that holds your customers' and/or clients' personal information, including but not limited social security numbers, you may want to wipe the drive, have it degaussed and then have it shredded.
If you typically store old hard drives until you get several, wipe them, and then degauss them before storing them. Degaussing a drive is destroying the data with a magnetic field. This way, should someone decide to steal one or three of those stored drives before you get them to Carolina Shred for shredding, the data will be more difficult to obtain. Contact Carolina Shred to learn your options for safely and securely destroying your medical documents.
Uniformed employees will pick up your old hard drives and documents for shredding. Hard drive shredding is done on site, and you will receive a certificate of destruction that shows that your hard drives were completely destroyed.