Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Wipe Your Harddrive

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

At least, before you resell it.
It’s always amazed me how many people don’t think about this. Honestly, do you want people you only know through eBay to have your old financial records? Or erotic e-mail you wrote your ex-husband? Or old pictures of you before you started your diet? Or any of a thousand other dangerous or embarassing things that you might leave behind on a drive. After all, all it takes is formatting the drive twice and it should be pretty safe. If you want to get close to government standards, format it nine times. That should pretty well make it impossible to read the old data. For most folks, this really shouldn’t be a big problem, since most folks don’t resell their hard drives, but, apparently, it’s become enough of an issue that the BBC News wrote an article about it.
If you’ve ever bought, or sold, a hard drive on eBay, or anywhere else, read this article. It should frighten you half to death. And, the problem doesn’t stop with hard drives. Any kind of data storage is at risk. Even those memory sticks in that digital camera you sold. Like the idea of your family pictures just floating around out there? Yeah, me neither. So, do yourself a favor and wipe your old data storage devices before you get rid of them. No matter how you dispose of them.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"One day you'll love me as I have loved you. One day you'll think of me as I've thought of you. One day you'll cry for me as I've cried for you. And one day you'll want me and I won't want you."


  1. With a nice utility from http://www.accessdata.com I can pull back info off a drive that’s been reformatted several times. If you want it killed, you really need to do a low-level format. I have purchased hard-drives on eBay that have been wiped, and fully restored the entire My Documents directory (just for fun), and was suprised to find several years worth of tax returns in pdf form. Talk about a golden opportunity for the jerky type who steal identities.

    On an unrelated note – I just started growing a beard, and the grey on the sides it’s prodding me into grabbing a razor. I’m vain enough to want to look younger, but not vain enough to try the cheesey “Just for Men” junk. Still waiting to see the pix of yours.

    Comment by stikboy — 10/3/2005 @ 10:26 am

  2. Well, there you go, the best ad yet for the PGP suite of tools. They have a “secure delete” utility that follows the Federal standard of erasing and over-writing the data area with “0”s seven times before finally deleting any data. Of course, there’s always the old degausser, if you can still find one…

    Yeah, it’s that darn grey vs. metro-sexual vanity that got me thinking about the beard, too. It just felt too… Too “mid-life crisis” to dye my beard. God, I’m getting old. Well, at least I have hair on my head, still, unlike my poor father and older brother. It can always be worse!

    Comment by the Network Geek — 10/3/2005 @ 10:39 am

  3. Arggh! Get out of my heads you banshees!! I stopped shaving my upper lip and chin a couple weeks ago…after noting that it made me look both older (the odd gray hair) and more redneck, I hacked it off like a big-game guide through the bush. Damn! I hate the freakin’, grease-absorbing stuff!

    Comment by paulnew — 10/3/2005 @ 3:04 pm

  4. Yes, well, that’s fine for you oldsters, but when people started to suggest I looked older than you actually are, well, that was going too far. I look not a day over 38 now. What a shame that I’m only 36.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 10/3/2005 @ 4:40 pm

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