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.