Now let’s not alarm anyone here, it’s all about professionalism and good working practices. If you have data stored on any medium such as a computer Hard Disc Drive (HDD), then there will be the possibility that this data can be retrieved. There are various processes and software that will delete and sanitise the HDD but nothing can guarantee that your data will be 100% irretrievable.
“But the computer person told me they use military-grade software?”
Okay, let’s put this into perspective, military-grade means nothing really. All it does mean is that some military organisation has at some point approved the use of an item. This could include a piece of electronic equipment, component or a packet of digestive biscuits!
“OMG, what do I do?”
Relax, if your data is of state secret in sensitivity and should never ever be discovered, then the only way is to physically destroy the HDD. So, have it removed and handed back to you for you to physically destroy.
99.9% of the time this isn’t necessary, instead your old HDD drive will be removed, attached to another computer running specialist software that removes all of your data. Depending on the size of the HDD this will take several hours if not days to complete.
“But the computer shop said they reformat it before selling it on and that will be fine?”
The short answer is, NO!
The chances are you’ve been told this because the shop in question doesn’t have the correct set-up and/or cannot be bothered because of the time and effort involved. Some business set-ups are only interested in profit and will happily take ‘short-cuts’ to achieve this which normally comes at your expense. They’ll give lots of reasons to try and convince you why it’s not necessary, if this is the case, we suggest you leave promptly with your equipment and take it elsewhere. Whereas other business will give you a quality of service you deserve and should expect, hopefully you’ll think that about us too.
If you use FDISK, FORMAT utilities, or DELETE standard operating system command for data removal, there will always be a chance to recover deleted files (using undelete or unformat tools) and use against the owner’s will.
Remember, you’re the only one who knows how sensitive your data is, if you’re happy for your HDD to be sanitised with specialist software, make sure the computer shop knows what they are doing and can explain or better still show you their procedures.
We realise it’s hard when these people stand behind a counter, point to certificates on wall or say, “Microsoft wouldn’t let us be part of their programme if…etc”. This doesn’t really mean anything unless they also belong to a quality professional organisation with a code of practice that all members have to adhere to. Yes, it can be very intimidating and hopefully that’s where we ‘stand out from the crowd’. We will do our best to make you feel at ease or failing that, we will happily help you find alternative routes to other computer professionals or shops that will be able to give you what you need. Yes, believe it or not, we won’t be at all offended if you prefer to go elsewhere, we know by helping you this way, means you will come back another day.