What is Hard Drive Shredding?

You can never be too safe when deleting sensitive information and data from computers. Most people don’t realize deleted files, data, images, or any other information can be recovered through your computer’s hard drive. It is an often overlooked component that can result in severe repercussions if your hard drive were to fall into the wrong hands.

Whether you are upgrading your computer for personal reasons or business needs, proper steps should be taken before disposing of or selling your old computer. Today, we will be discussing various methods to wipe the hard drive that will keep you and your sensitive information safe from hackers. We will discuss what options may be more suitable for you, from hard drive shredding to software programs that wipe and scrub your hard drive.

A pile of many old hard drives before hard drive shredding.

How Does a Hard Drive Work?

So before we get into the importance of wiping your hard drive, let’s go over what a hard drive is and the role it plays in your PC or laptop. A hard drive is a hardware component that stores and retrieves all of your digital information such as your operating system, applications, programs, photos, videos, documents, movies, and any other data files that your computer uses. It is essentially the backbone of your computer and works with all of the other significant components of your PC as well.

The hard drive uses magnetism to store data with rotating platters that are coated with magnetic material, which are divided into tons of tiny parts within the hard drive. The platters are typically paired with magnetic heads and arranged on a moving actuator arm which reads and writes data to the platter surfaces. Each part is individually magnetized to store a “1” or demagnetized to store a “0”. One of the reasons magnetism works so well is that it continues to store the information even when your PC is powered down. Because of the fragility and delicateness of the platter and actuator arm, they are covered by a steel case to prevent damage to the hard drive disk. Hard drives have come a long way, and the most modern hard drives can store well over a trillion 0/1 bits per platter.

The hard drive is a very complex piece of hardware that most casual computer users do not entirely understand, especially when it comes to deleting files. But it’s critical to know that emptying your recycle bin or trash folder does not permanently delete those files from the hard drive. Deletion earmarks the spot that the deleted files were taking up and makes the spot “vacant” but not permanently deleted. It is not common for the average computer user to know how to recover these deleted files, but it can be done if you know how.

Hard Drive Shredding vs. Scrubbing Software

So let’s say that you are selling your personal computer or laptop; you are going to want to make sure that all of your sensitive data is permanently deleted and unrecoverable. The best and most convenient way to do this is by using a hard drive scrubbing software program. At iolo, we take a lot of pride in our software programs, and our DriveScrubber software will securely wipe all your drives before you sell, donate, or recycle your computer. When shopping around for a hard drive scrubber, be sure to find one that meets or even exceeds Department of Defense security standards. Using scrubbing software can also be a great way to get your computer running like it’s brand new. However, there are other methods to help increase computer speed and performance that don’t require your hard drive to be entirely wiped or scrubbed.

Suppose you are a business owner recycling old computers. In that case, there are other options that physically destroy your hard drives to ensure that all sensitive data (employee records, tax information, etc.) are permanently destroyed. Hard drive shredding is used in cases where the owners have no desire to resell or reuse the hard drive and involves a mechanical device that physically destroys hard drives into small pieces in a way that cannot ever be recovered. Hard drive shredding can be costly but the most effective way to physically destroy hard drives.

So the next time you are considering selling, donating, recycling your old laptop or PC, be sure to wipe your hard drive to protect your sensitive information.

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