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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I am planning on giving my old computer away to one of the local resale stores. What's the best way to remove all my data from the hard drive?

A. First of all, you are to be commended for donating your computer rather than just toss it into the trash. Depending on its age, it may very well find a new home with someone who really needs it. Whatever you are doing with your old computer, it's extremely important to completely remove all traces of your data and personal information from the computer's hard drive.

In some cases your computer might be considered too old and it would not be technically feasible to update it for reuse by another. If so, the resale store will simply scrap the computer and the base and precious metals will be recycled by a firm which specializes in those procedures. In the event of a reuse, the resale store may upgrade your unit with newer parts and/or operating system and recycling older parts when appropriate.

In any event, it's important to remember that you will never be sure exactly where your hard drive will end up if the computer is donated to a resale store. It could be trashed, recycled or even sold in bulk with other hard drives to some unknown firm. Accordingly, you would want to wipe all information from the hard drive before disposing of your computer.

If you wish, you can physically destroy your hard drive by beating it with a heavy hammer. It's easy enough to remove the drive from your computer but you will find it is surprisingly difficult to smash it flat or even dent it. Some people suggest drilling several holes through the drive and that's probably an easier solution if you want to physically destroy it.

An alternative solution is to use a program called "Darik's Boot and Nuke" (DBAN). It's a free software hard drive wiper that does what it says it's going to do. It's available here. It does require a bit of technical knowledge but here's an excellent source of information.

Published: Courier 8/3/14 - Page 3D