When it comes to deleting files from your computer, there may be times when you’re relieved they are not permanently gone. The bad news? When you’re ready to discard your computer, if you don’t do it properly, others can access your deleted items.
Dragging folders into the trash bin on your computer doesn’t delete the file — it simply deletes the road the operating system takes to retrieve the data. The file still exists on the hard drive even though you can’t see it. Hard drive destruction is a little more complicated than that.
What Gets Left Behind and Where is It?
Some studies suggest that up to 78% of “wiped” hard drives – where the information is erased – still contain recoverable data. Normal deletion of files regardless of operating system only purges the file reference. The data is left untouched on the drive.
What does this mean? The file remains on the hard drive until another file or part of another file is saved to the same location.
Hard drives are embedded in electronics such as laptops, tablets, printers, copiers and even video game consoles. It’s hard to know offhand what needs to be destroyed, but a trusted shredding and destruction partner can help you identify and properly dispose of any kind of hard drive to ensure proprietary product details, financial statements, or customer information stays confidential.
Complete Hard Drive Destruction
Taking basic steps to remove files from your computer might be enough to discourage identity thieves, but it’s far from a guarantee and won’t stop anyone who’s after your files, accounts, or other critical information.
Technology improves so rapidly that we often have older devices sitting around unsecured with hard drives full of confidential, proprietary, and personally identifiable information (PII) on them. Keeping these devices around without a plan in place to recycle them safely can negatively impact your business’s reputation and financial bottom line.
Potential Regulatory Problems
In the past, it was enough for companies working on their retired IT disposal efforts to first consider residual value, then complying with environmental laws related to e-waste. Now, seemingly constant data breaches have placed the spotlight squarely on secure data disposal processes, and companies who don’t comply could be held liable. People are angry that their personal information is being exposed and politicians are asking for more security regulations and putting pressure on governance bodies such as the FTC.
The “Disposal Rule” enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires businesses to properly dispose of personally identifiable information on computer hard drives and other digital media, holding companies accountable for their handling of consumer information.
Before You Upgrade Electronics
Even old devices not currently in use often contain a great deal of confidential information. If you are looking to upgrade or replace your device, you still need to ensure the data has been completely deleted before you donate or recycle it.
There are countless organizations that would be happy to accept old computers and devices. And while being altruistic has its merits, you should still take the appropriate steps to ensure complete hard drive destruction prior to donating.
If you are not incorporating hard drive destruction as part of your overall cybersecurity or business continuity plan, you may want to reconsider.
Working With a Destruction Specialist
While taking your old devices outside with a baseball bat may sound therapeutic and cost-effective, it’s dangerous and impractical. Put the bat down and team up with a trusted partner who can destroy your old devices safely and efficiently, and ensure you stay in line with regulations and protecting data.
Paper Tiger is an electronics recycler. You can drop off electronics for free; hard drives are $5 each to recycle. Click here for a full list of the electronics we accept for recycling.Back to Blog