It has become apparent that many tech users do not know how to properly clear data from their old devices. Most of the time users think they can just drag and drop unwanted items into the recycling bin on their computer and then hit ‘empty trash’. It isn’t that simple.
According to PCWorld’s How to Clear Your Data off a Device,
“Back in 2003, two graduate students at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science bought 158 used hard disks from eBay and other sources.
Only 12 of the drives had their data properly cleaned. Even though approximately 60% of the hard drives had been reformatted and about 45% had no files on them (the drives couldn’t even be mounted on a computer), the students were still able to recover data from them, using a variety of special tools. They found over 5,000 credit card numbers, personal and corporate financial records, medical records and personal e-mails.”
Did that scare you? Maybe, but don’t worry. Below we posted a few tips from PCWorld on how to properly clear data from your old smartphones and computers:
”For versions before Android 4.0, press the Menu key from the Home screen and select Settings/Privacy/Factory data reset. You’ll get a warning screen. Scroll toward the bottom and tap “Reset phone.” If you also have an SD card in the phone (and don’t want to use the data in your next phone), also make sure to check the box next to “Erase SD card.”
For Android 4.0 or later, go to Settings and look for “Backup and reset.” Tap that, and then, on the next screen, tap “Factory data reset.” You’ll get a warning screen along with a list of all the accounts you are currently signed into.”
“Go to Settings/General/Reset and then tap “Erase all Content and Settings.” (This is specifically for Version 5; the process may differ slightly for other versions.)”
WINDOWS PHONE 7
“Go to the Home screen, then tap the Application Menu Key and select Settings/ System/About/ and tap the “Reset your phone” button.”
“Head to Options/Security options/General settings, and then tap menu. Then select Wipe Handheld.”
Computer Hard Drives
When wiping data from a computer hard drive it is important to refer to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Media Sanitization Guidelines. The U.S. Department of Defense outlines a number of programs that can keep your information secure by overwriting the hard disk multiple times. PCWorld outlines below a few PC programs that meet the required standards of the DoD:
“One well-known free application that meets the DoD’s standards, according to Auburn University, is Darik’s Boot and Nuke. The software creates a boot disk that wipes everything on the hard drive. It can also be used with floppy disks (remember those?), USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs.
Another free Windows utility that also meets the DoD’s standards is Eraser.
If you’ve got a Mac, you can use Apple‘s built-in Disk Utility (it can be found in the Applications/Utility folder). You can also download a third-party application like Mireth Technology’s ShredIt X ($25, free trial available), which lets you shred files (in other words, overwrite the contents of a file multiple times) as well as wipe your local hard drive, network hard drives and CD-RWs. (There’s a Windows version as well.)
If you’re truly nervous, there are hardware devices available that let you sanitize your drives such as Drive eRazer Ultra. Or you can pull the disk from your PC and send it to a hard drive shredding service that will physically destroy the drive.”
To learn more on how to properly erase data from your devices be sure to read the full article from PCWorld.