How To Properly Erase Sensitive Data From Your Computer And Server

As more businesses use computer software and technology to help improve their efficiency and services, more potentially sensitive customer data is being stored on hard drives and other storage medium. From your desktop computer to full-scale server systems, there will likely come a time when you need to upgrade or replace your existing hardware.

How To Properly Erase Sensitive Data From Your Computer And Server

If a storage device leaves your business with any data intact, you run the risk of data theft. In an increasingly digital era, this sort of mishap could be disastrous to any business. These three methods for erasing important documents and files are easy to perform and affordable for nearly any business budget.

Method #1 - Selective Drive Erasing with Active@ Kill Disk

Active@ Kill Disk supports Windows, DOS and Linux for compatibility with many business servers and computers. Though the program is capable of wiping Apple HFS+ formatted drives, it is currently not available for the OSX. It features two erasing modes depending on your needs.

  • Disk Erase: This mode clears all data from the disk. Simply choose a disk, pick an erase method and click start. The recommended methods are DoD 5220.22-M and DoD 5220.22-M (ECE) with the later being the most secure.
  • Disk Wipe: This mode only cleans the unused portions of the drive. This is ideal if you are moving a drive from one computer to another but wish to retain files or settings that are stored on the drive.
Both methods will produce a report upon completion and verify the erasing process. Additional features, such as e-mail notifications, can be configured as well for remote monitoring.

Method #2 - Boot-time Erasure with Darik's Boot and Nuke

DBAN allows you to erase drives that might be running operating systems or similar softwares that prevent proper erasure if the computer were running normally. When using DBAN, be sure to store any discs that you create in a secure location.

The first step to running DBAN is creating a copy of the disc you will be using. Simply download the ISO file and write it to a CD-R using the program of your choice. Care should be taken not to execute any of the files within the ISO file as this could result is unintentional data loss.

After the disk is written, simply place it in the optical drive of the computer you wish to wipe and reboot the computer. If the computer is not set to check for bootable discs, changes in the BIOS settings may be required. If you do not know how to perform these steps, check your computer manual or Hiren's Guide for Booting from CDROMs.

If successful, you should see a prompt from DBAN. Typing "dod" and pressing enter will then wipe every drive connected to the system. For wiping individual drives, you just press the enter key at the prompt and use the interactive interface.

Method #3 - Drive Destruction via Degaussing

If you do not intend to reuse or resell the drives that you have erased, the most secure and quick method of data erasure is drive destruction. While you could physically dismantle the drive, degaussing offers a faster, easier solution. Degaussing machines use strong electromagnetic fields to permanently wipe any data stored on a drive.

Depending on the type of machine being used, this makes it possible to wipe thousands of drives with ease. If purchasing a degaussing machine is not feasible, many document-shredding services also offer degaussing services as well. Once the degaussing process is complete, the drive will no longer function or contain any data.

Author Bio: Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, mobile technology, marketing tech and digital security. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.
How To Properly Erase Sensitive Data From Your Computer And Server How To Properly Erase Sensitive Data From Your Computer And Server Reviewed by Sandipan Chakraborty on June 12, 2013 Rating: 5
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