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Tech Corner

Before you get rid of that computer!

Whether you are planning to sell, donate, give away or even trash your computer, be sure to 'wipe' everything clean from your hard drive(s). There can be all types of personal information on your computer that you may be unaware of; i.e. passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Using ‘Delete' to get rid of a program will not do it. ‘Delete' just changes part of the file name so that the operating system will not look for it! The file itself is still there!

Even the ‘Format' command and the ‘Fdisk' operation do little to remove information left on a disk.

When using the ‘Format' command, Windows displays a message like this:

"Important: Formatting a disk removes all information from the disk."

This is not true at all!

The FORMAT utility actually creates new FAT and ROOT tables, leaving all previous data on the disk untouched. Moreover, an image of the replaced FAT and ROOT tables are stored, so that the UNFORMAT command can be used to restore them.

FDISK merely cleans the Partition Table (located in the drive's first sector) and does not touch anything else.

There are many security applications available on the internet that will write over everything on your hard drive. Multiple 'wipes' are usually required to make sure that almost no one can later retrieve your data. One good program is KillDisk, which will secure your disk(s) so that no one except maybe the C.I.A. can recover any information. KillDisk is also free! Be sure to read the text (some of which I've included, above) that comes with KillDisk! They have some very good information on data security issues.
If you already have SpyBot - Search and Destroy on your computer (also free!), change Mode to Advanced; click on Tools in the left column and then click on Secure Shredder. Right-click in the main window and you can select individual files for 'wiping'. Clicking on the down arrow next to 'Templates' gives you the option to shred everything in your Temp folder or permanently get rid of IE's cookies and cache. With identity theft such a big issue, you can't be too careful!

73 - N4UMS, Bill