1) Conduct a comprehensive backup of the files you’d like to keep on your computer. Even if you’ve backed up before, it’s best practice to conduct one final backup as close to the final wipe of the drive as possible. You may choose to back up your files on either an external hard drive, a cloud service, or both. As you save your files, don’t forget your photos!
2) Erase your hard drive. It might seem easy enough to manually select and delete individual files from your computer, but this is not the recommended approach. You could easily miss a file and you’ll have to duplicate the entire process to ensure files are also deleted from the recycling bin.
Furthermore, it’s not always possible to delete all program files manually. Instead, download free, easy-to-use software to permanently erase your hard drive. DBAN is one of several options. Lifewire has a full walkthrough of using DBAN to delete your hard drive. If you don’t need or want anyone else to use the computer ever again, you’re finished!
3) Decide if you need to reformat. If you or someone else you know plans to use the computer in the future, you’ll want to reformat the drive. Reformatting rewrites the drive so it can be used again for storage. Some people think that skipping straight to reformatting is a quicker way to wipe a drive. Don’t fall for this trap. To ensure your private data is not easily recoverable, follow the steps to erase the drive first and then reformat the drive if you’d still like it to be usable.
If done properly, this process is likely to take several minutes to several hours. If you have multiple drives on one computer, make sure that all drives are wiped. Failing to follow all of the steps could mean your data is just invisible and could be compromised. Once you’ve wiped your hard drive, it’s either as good as new or ready to safely discard.
Sometimes hard drives are deleted or wiped unintentionally. If your data is suddenly missing, we’ll do our best to help with recovery. Submit an online help form today. We’ll respond with a free quote and an estimate of turnaround time.