Erasing your computer’s hard drive should be the first thing on your mind whether you’re going to donate or throw away your computer. Clicking “Delete” doesn’t ensure that your old files and data won’t be accessed by anyone. Personal information related to you might get into the hands of a complete stranger or anyone with technical know-how on retrieving deleted files. You don’t need a computer technician to do this for you. The following steps will teach you how to completely erase a Dell Computer Hard Drive.
- Make a backup of files you want to save. You should understand that once you start clearing your files they will be lost forever. The process is irretrievable. Therefore, what you must do first is to make backup copies of all the valuable files and data you still need now and for future use. You should know how to maintain an archive of important files.
- Buy a “drive wiping” software. Visit any computer software retail store and look for what is called a “drive wiping” software. There are other types, but since you need to completely eradicate all trace of your files, what you need to look for is a special DOD (Department of Defense) level software. This kind of special software not only erases entire drives. It also overwrites it at least three times with a code. This procedure makes your original files impossible to retrieve. Make sure that you have the original software. Read descriptions and labels carefully.
- Insert the first disc into your computer. Tear off the packaging of the discs. Get the first one and insert it into your computer. Wait for the prompt that will follow.
- Start the program. Once the disc is in your computer drive, the program will automatically start. Just let the disc run its full course. The process generally takes a short time to finish—about a few minutes or less than an hour. Of course, it will depend on your hard drive’s size and how much data is stored in it. If you have too much content, the process could take an hour or more. But just relax and wait for the program to indicate whether it’s finished. Check every now and then for prompts that might appear.
- Follow-up with the remaining discs. If there are other discs you need to use, follow it up one after the other.
- Degauss your hard drive. As you know, hard drives are made to be resilient. Magnetic patterns of data are imprinted on disk platters in your hard drive. Even when you delete your files and hard drive, or reformat it, the magnetic patterns are still there. They can withstand even deliberate deletion. The purpose of degaussing is to completely remove these magnetic patterns, making your files surely impossible to retrieve and access. For this you would need to buy a degaussing ring from an electronics store. This is usually used to remove static charges from television and computer screens.
- Plug the device into the nearest electrical outlet. The degaussing device is an electromagnet dependent on a power source. After connecting it into an outlet, turn off your computer.
- Run the device all over the hard drive surface. Position the device about one inch from the hard drive casing. Then run it all over the surface of the hard drive. Keep this up for 30 seconds. By that time, all traces of your data would have been completely removed.
Warning: Be advised that a simple reformatting or deleting procedure doesn’t completely erase all traces of your data and files. It just clears them, but they’re still imprinted on the hard drive. In fact, they can be retrieved and accessed by a skilled computer technician or hacker.
If you need to completely erase the hard drive of your Dell computer, you shouldn’t rely on any “quick fix”. You have to ensure that your old data and files cannot be retrieved and accessed again by anyone else. Be thorough and sure by following the procedure highlighted above.