Why Must I Remove the Data After Retiring a PC?

You’ve upgraded the computers in the office. Everyone is enjoying the high speed, bells and whistles that come along with the latest technology. In addition, you’ve decided to do the socially responsible thing and donate the old computers to charity. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Then it hits you….

The old, retired PCs may contain sensitive data.

HIPAA requirements, identify theft, you name it. There are a million reasons why your old, retired PCs need to be wiped and old data removed before they leave your hands. While it takes a little bit of time and know-how, the removal of data is an absolute necessity before giving those old computers away to a nearby school, church or what-have-you.

Finding the Old Data on a Retired PC

You deleted everything on the desktop. Additionally, you found the “My Documents” folder and trashed all the files contained within it. You checked the “Favorites” folder. You’re all set, right? Sorry, but it isn’t quite that simple. Your information can be harvested from sources such as computer registries, hidden folders and your browser history just to name a few.

Private data can be hidden in so many places that there are only a couple of ways to make sure you’ve removed any proprietary information. You can either:

  • Wipe the internal hard drive clean
  • Detonate it

Unless you want to deal with the possibility of collateral damage or the office sprinkler system, I strongly suggest the first of these two alternatives.

Removing Data after Retiring Your PC

Assuming you’re like me and you prefer to stay dry, you’ll want to wipe the internal hard drive clean of any previously held data. There are a few ways you can go about this task. Your alternatives include:

  1. Reformat the drive (Format C from a Windows Setup Disc or systems repair disc).
  2. Purchase a software tool that will wipe the drive clean.
  3. Get your IT person to do it.

I love YouTube as I can find video “how to” instructions regarding almost anything including the procedures for reformatting a hard drive. However, even with video instructions, the procedure isn’t fool proof.

Unless you’ve done this kind of thing before or know your way around a PC better than most, you may wish to give this to your IT guy to handle. Take it from a fool who knows.

Your IT person can take care of this kind of thing with ease and you can rest assured that sensitive information will not fall into the wrong hands because you didn’t take the proper precautions. Also, your IT guy can reload the operating software on your retired PCs so that whomever you donate the old equipment to won’t have any undue stress trying to set them up for use.

Call the IT Guys at Beacon

At Beacon, our IT people specialize in working with small and medium size businesses and addressing their computer and IT needs. If your business does not yet have the designated IT resources to deal with these kinds of issues, call the experts at Beacon IT Services (BITS) at 336.447.3473.

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