How to Securely Wipe Your Computer

I just returned from AMWA 2019, where I met a lot of great colleagues in the medical writing/editing field! I got some great cybersecurity questions, too!

One question I received at the conference was, “How can I cyber-safely dispose of my computer?” I mentioned that a research facility I had worked for would use large, powerful magnets to wipe their drives before disposal, but that’s not a practical option for all of us—and honestly, I’m not sure how well that works.

I admitted that smashing the hell out of the drive with a sledge hammer was the only way to really know it can’t be accessed and the data that had been stored on it has been sent to the great beyond (well, it can’t be accessed).

My colleagues seemed a little stunned, and I felt a bit abashed. Let’s face it, I look like I can’t pick up a sledge hammer, let alone obliterate a piece of hardware with one. Perhaps I proffered the approach with too much enthusiasm?

So I re-researched my approach when I got home last night, to see if there are any recent nifty new tools that those unwilling to let it all hang out with a sledge hammer and a drive in their back yard might want to employ. All I came up with was confirmation that my guidance still holds. Which pleases me, because honestly, this is yet another case where cybersecurity can save you money–destroying a drive in your back yard can be great therapy if you time it right, and much cheaper than a therapist. : )

For insight into how your computer physically stores your data and how to safely dispose of your entire computer (not just the drive shards and sherds), check out this article published just last week: https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a29396384/how-to-wipe-computer/

Trust me on this one—and be sure to wear safety goggles!

 

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