This post is also available in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))
Safely Dispose Computer and Portable Storage Media – A Guide to Doing It Right
Don’t Leave Your Leftover Data Behind
Delete files are not always gone for good, which is why you need to safely dispose computer and portable storage media the right way. Data can still reside in your memory cards and thumb drives. Yes, even after you’ve hit that delete button. Sensitive documents and information could still linger unless you dispose of your devices in a safe and secure manner.
Think of your storage devices like a library. When you “delete” an item, what you’re doing is removing the index of the book from the library’s vast catalogue. That’s it. The book (or file in this case) is still going to be there. Computer-savvy users with the right tools will still be able to successfully retrieve deleted content.
Unless you safely dispose computer and portable storage media and completely and securely remove all traces of data, your information is at risk. Unfortunately, deleting or reformatting your devices won’t cut it. Reformatting gives the illusion that the data is erased, but the truth is it can still be recovered.
What to Do Before Disposing of Your Devices?
There are basically three ways to effectively and permanently remove all traces of data on your storage devices:
- Physically Destroying the Devices
Shred and destroying your devices physically. It’s one of the three ways of ensuring your data can never be recovered. After all, once the storage device itself is not salvageable, there’s no way of using or retrieving its content anyway.
You’ll need an encryption key or algorithm to make this work. Basically, what you’re doing is encoding the information within through encryption. This turns your data into unreadable content, making it impossible for anyone to decipher it. Only then is it okay to safely dispose computer and portable storage media. Without the encryption key, no one is going to be able to access that data but you.
- Secure Erasure
Overwrite every piece of data leftover in your devices with the secure data erasure. This renders the information within unrecoverable, thereby making it safe for you to dispose of your devices.