Wipe That Drive!

A recent University of Hertfordshire study found that the majority of second-hand hard drives contain previous owner’s data. They purchased 200 used hard drives, and found that 59% still contained data from previous owners.

ZDNet has the details of the findings, and more importantly, 14 ways to wipe them effectively.

Every electronic device has some sort of memory that can potentially contain sensitive, confidential, or personal information. That includes computer hard drives, solid state drives, thumb drives, photocopiers, phones, cars, watches, smart TVs, and the list goes on. Whether we are disposing them, selling them, or returning them, we need to effectively wipe them clean.

For a personal device, it risks leaking personal information of yourself or your family that could be used against you in some way.

For business devices, it risks leaking confidential information about the business or its customers, and possibly violates privacy laws, confidentiality agreements, and privilege obligations.

If the devices are being recycled, destroying them with a hammer and punch, or drilling holes in them is very effective.

But there are also several less destructive options to choose from.

Just make sure you turn your mind to it, and do it right.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    A colleague of mine, back when we still used tape drives, mounted what was supposed to be a blank tape. He discovered it was full of medical records.

    Erasing tapes with an office shredder or disks with a large hammer is probably a good idea.