How do I wipe my old hard drive clean?

Deborah Salmi, 29 July 2013

How do I wipe my old hard drive clean?

How_toQuestion of the week: I am going to buy a new laptop before school starts again. How do I ensure that my old laptop is completely clean of old credit card numbers, passwords, and personal files before I sell it?

It’s good that you thought of this important task before selling your old hardware to a stranger. There have been plenty of case studies describing how sensitive information was found on second-hand hard drives bought on eBay. In one publicized example, details of a U.S. military air defense system were exposed along with blueprints of facilities and employees' social security numbers!

Bank account information, passwords, and your poetry are still recoverable even after you wipe the hard drive clean, reformat it and reinstall Windows. You see, when a file has been "deleted" the data itself isn't deleted immediately. When you format a hard drive partition, or delete a file using standard tools, only a reference to its data is removed. No actual erasing is performed until another file overwrites the area on the disk where the original file resided, which is exactly what avast! Data Shredder does.

Wipe it Clean!

avast! Data Shredder is a new feature in avast! Premier which allows you to irreversibly erase hard drive partitions or individual files clean of sensitive data. It works by writing over the hard drive partition or the file with meaningless data before deleting it. This way you “shred” partitions and files in such a way that it is impossible to recover them by utilities capable of tracing and restoring deleted files.

So when you sell your computer and want to be sure that there is no way to restore your files, make sure you shred them with avast! Data Shredder. And when you get your new laptop, you can transfer the avast! Premier license.

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