Thieves Find Treasure
In Your Trash
- by Jim Edwards
(c) Jim Edwards -
Imagine this scenario...
After serving you well for three to five years, your old
computer earns a well-deserved retirement.
You transfer all your old files to your new computer,
delete them from the hard drive, and pack the old computer off
... to the trash heap, sell it, or give it away.
innocent enough until you stop to consider that you may
have just given away your social security number, all
your passwords, your credit card numbers, bank
statements, financial records, and every other bit of
sensitive data you ever maintained on that computer.
With computers getting
cheaper by the day, many folks now find themselves replacing
old machines with newer, faster models.
But understand one thing: just hitting the delete button to
get rid of sensitive files basically rates the same as putting
a bank statement in your trash can without shredding it -
anybody can reach in and pull it out.
In fact, with inexpensive over-the-counter data recovery
software (the kind you can buy to recover files you delete
accidentally), virtually anybody can fire up your old hard
drive and start pulling off data even though you "deleted" it.
creates a veritable field day for identity thieves who
comb through junk yards for old computers and attend
computer shows buying up used hard drives by the dozens.
Whether selling it, giving it
away, or tossing it on the junk heap, when it's time to
replace your computer with a newer model, you basically
have three options for permanently wiping out your data.
Many computers come with recovery disks that will completely
format the hard drive and return it to its original
"factory-fresh" state. Using this
approach makes a great option when you plan to give away or
sell the computer.
Use a software program designed to
erase your hard drive, or at least totally destroy
your deleted files. You can find one fr^e at
www.active-disk-wiper.com that claims to completely erase
your deleted files without affecting Windows or your other
In keeping with the times, the third option requires a
disclaimer. <smile>. Only attempt this with safety glasses, a
flak jacket, and under close professional, adult supervision.
(This is the one I like ..............
Unplug your computer and let it
Take off the cover and remove the hard drive.
Bash the hard drive with a
hammer until it looks like
That should render it completely resistant to any would-be
identity thief armed with even the latest data recovery
destruction of the hard drive rates about as secure as
you can get in protecting your deleted files from prying
But before you take drastic
action on the computer, remember that your "trash" may just
represent a dream come true for someone who can't afford a new
Execute Option Two
and then find a child, a student, or a struggling parent who
could really use your old computer and would consider it a
Finding the right new home for it could well change someone
else's life forever.
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist
(http://www.TheNetReporter.com) and is the author of
several best-selling ebooks, information products and
software programs. Jim also publishes the *World-Famous*
www.IGottaTellYou.com Multi-Media Newsletter!
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