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Permanently Delete Personal Files
Research has shown that a great percentage of used computers usually contain valuable information of previous users. It is funny how much confidential information like files, emails, and site login passwords of old owners are found on such computers. What is worse is the threat of leaving bank information like credit and bank account numbers.
Next time you want to give up your machine to someone or you decide to donate it to a charity organization, do consider erasing all your personal data on it. Think about those passwords you stored on your browser that automatically log into your favourite sites. Have you checked your messengers to see that they are not on "remember me" or "remember password"? Did you at any time send anything to your bank that contains all your personal information? Check My Documents for it.
Start from your My Documents Folder
Your windows document is where your files are stored each time you save a work. It would surprise you as to what information this area of your computer holds. Comb through the files and delete anyone with sensitive information. If you do not want to delete all the files, do consider deleting any file that pertains to school, work, bank, business deals, queries, and applications. Open the My Video and delete all homemade videos. Next, check for such sensitive files on your desktop and delete them too. Remember to empty the recycle bin after. Also, make sure you check your pictures to see if there is anything worth deleting.
Although there are ways to manually delete all vital information from your computer without uninstalling a single piece of software. It is advisable to uninstall all the Internet browsers on your computer. Note: Do not leave any of them running as browsers usually import and share things like passwords and settings. In fact, you can never be too sure as to which Brower contains your credit card information.
Some people prefer uninstalling their old operating system before giving out or selling their used computer. However not everyone has all the time in the world to carry out the procedure. The importance of making sure you have completely wiped out all personal information there are on your computer before handing it down to a new owner or donating it for a good course cannot be overemphasized. No matter whom the receiver is, you can never guarantee where next that computer of yours would be the minute it leaves your sight for good.
Hard-Drive Wiping Software
If you want to be very thorough about deleting your personal information, I would recommend wiping your hard drive. Hard-drive wiping software such as WipeDrive, Active@KillDisk and DP Wiper let you overwrite your personal files with zeros and random ones, thereby making your personal data difficult to recover. But note that these software packages do not completely, without any trace, delete personal files. Some few skilled programmers or hackers may be able to access, read, and make print out copies of your files like you never used hard-drive wiping software in the first place. If you want to be sure that you wipe your hard drive, you will need to zero fill your whole hard drive. There is software available to do this as well. However, it should be noted that the process of zero filling a large hard drive can take a bit of time.
It is a good idea to use hard-drive wiping software that runs more than twice to ensure that it inflicts as much damage to the files as possible. While the use of such software to erase data on a hard-drive is the best standard to protect one's identity; a very skilled programmer or hacker, with third party software, may still be able to access that long-forgotten personal information you once deleted. Therefore, the best thing to do is to avoid donating or disposing your computer when your old hard-drive is still in it. You can always replace the old one with a new hard-drive if you must donate your old computer system.
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