When wiping your hard disk drive clean, it's not as simple as putting a number of data files into the recyling bin. Removing files usually takes a lot more work than simply just dragging them into a trash can or even selecting the "delete permanently"option. Windows, Mac, Linux, and every other operating system rarely truly remove files until more data is written on that physical place on the hard drive.
The truth is the data continues surviving on the hard disk, leaving it totally vulnerable to free file recover programs. Imagine you happen to be upgrading to Windows 7 from XP or Vista, and you also have to buy some new hardware to be Windows 7 compatible. Many people look to promote their own aged PC, and formatting the drive or remove the user data and decide "OK, this is all gone." Imagine that an individual runs file restoration software on your machine. They may very well discover passwords for your online banking as well as credit card balances, web sites individual IDs along with private data, access to your Amazon company accounts, and also the digital camera images of yourself and your family. All of which you thought you had already deleted for good!
Forever erasing files from your harddrive is extremely difficult. The only certain way of forever removing data from a hard disk drive is to physically extract the drive, find a large hammer, and smash it into tiny parts. Some recovery packages are really advanced; they can retrieve info that's on the drive, even after that physical location has been written to 5 times or more!
So what choices do you really have when wiping your hard drive clean?
Erasure of your documents merely eliminates the "pointer" to that area of the drive in Windows. You really want the software to virtually "shred" your file. There are free file shredding software applications available, and they work to varying degrees. But, if you really want to completely eliminate the file from your system, it may require some heavier-duty commercial software.
The way this commercial software works is that it randomly writes 1s and 0s to each sector of your hard drive. When it's finished with that, it does it again and again on the same sector, often up to 10 times or more! In order to protect yourself from identity theft, it's recommended that you use the highest-rated software you can find for data removal.
Obviously, the simplest way to actually delete all your information as well as safeguard your computer data would be to physically destroy your hard drive, although that is quite an excessive measure.
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