Whether you’re hiding it from criminals, your children or your significant other, it’s pretty much guaranteed that we all have some form of data that we’d prefer stayed secret. Unfortunately for those of us outside of MI5 though, sometimes it’s not always that clear how to get rid of private data before it gets in to the wrong hands. There are a few solid options, but sticking with the best doesn’t hurt.
In this article I’ve decided to have a look at some of the conventional technical ways for destroying your private data, but also some other, less conventional methods…
For pictures of your secret meetings, cookies showing which sites you’ve been visiting, videos of you doing that crazy dance only alcohol can bring out of you and any other computer-based items, it’s best to use a program like CCleaner. Ideally you want something that will not only delete the data, but completely wipe it to prevent the more determined people from finding out.
It’s quite complicated to explain why, but at as analogy, think of a handwritten note. If you were to write something else on top, the right tools might let you see what was originally underneath. Similarly, because data on a hard drive is stored magnetically, there are a number of free pieces of software that will attempt to “undelete” your files even though you’d removed them from the recycle bin.
When completely overwriting a file with erroneous data enough times, you make it hard (but not always impossible) to recover it later on. This is known as shredding. It’s particularly important for hospitals, government agencies and the like to do this to prevent people from picking a hard drive out of the bin and using it for more nefarious deeds.
On the other hand, there’s something really alluring about destruction, and this is an excellent opportunity to let your wild side out and have some fun. I’ve personally found that taking a sledgehammer to a hard drive is incredible therapeutic. You’d be surprised at how satisfying the clonking sound is when metal meets metal.
If you happen to have a pot of lava or thermite laying around (hey, I’m not one to judge) it’s pretty fair to say that you should say your goodbyes before dropping your hard drive in, as you’re probably never going to see it again.
Other fun options include: removing the platter and seeing if it will blend, testing out your new drill on the body, or my personal favourite, rigging up an electromagnet and watching on as the hard drive is powerless to resist the pull (annihilating all data in the process).
Alternatively, if you just want to make sure your bills, receipts and the like are safely destroyed, lining it up for some shredding by a specialist firm roving paper eaters is also a great idea. You have the option of them coming directly to you to pick it up and shred on-site, or letting Iron Mountain take the paper away for you and utterly demolishing it. For the more paranoid amongst us, if you choose to let them take it away, you’ll be glad to know that every step is completely open to audits.
I’m sure some of my readers are very eco-concious and think that destroying your data and burning it might not be very good for the environment. Well don’t worry, because there’s a super clean, eco friendly alternative for you. Cats!
It’s the worlds most eco friendly shredder!
No matter how you choose to do away with your data, the peace of mind knowing that your secrets are safely erased from history is too good of a feeling to pass up on. You never know when your past will come back to bite you, so it’s best to remove the option entirely.
I think I’ve given you plenty of different options to destroy your data now, so go and have fun!