If you are looking to let go of your computers, servers, or any data-storing devices or pieces of equipment, secure data erasure is extremely important. Whether you’re the owner of a personal device or you manage a fleet of business IT assets, you’ll need your data thoroughly wiped before you either dispose or sell them. Here are some questions you might have in mind and their corresponding answers.
Personal or Consumer Concerns
Why don’t I just delete my files?
While the words “delete” and “erase” may technically be synonyms, they are not the same when applied in the context of data destruction. When you delete your files, you simply make it inaccessible to the user. However, when special techniques are employed, those files may still be recovered. It is safe to say that file or data deletion is simply temporary. When you need to free up your memory or organise your files, that’s when deleting is best.
Data erasure, on the other hand, is permanent. It does not render files inaccessible – the process removes them from the device as if they were never there in the first place.
Why isn’t a Factory Reset Enough?
If you are planning to sell your phone or tablet, a factory reset may make it seem as though the files are totally gone, but a factory reset alone may not be enough. Mobile devices have flash memory, and with a factory reset, the contents of the chip itself may still be there, but the operating system (or you) will not be able to see it. Again, it would take expert hands to recover those files, but they are recoverable.
What about a Hard Drive Format? Would that do the Trick?
Similar to the effects of a factory reset, formatting your hard drive may not remove the data still stored in your computer or laptop. Though there would be extra steps needed to access that data, all of the data would technically still be intact. The purpose of a format is to take out the device’s file system so that a new one can be created – a good way to think about it is that the original data may be ‘buried’ under the new file system. It’s invisible to the OS but it is technically still there.