How to Destroy Your Computer

If you’ve upgraded your tech this summer and are ready to retire your old computer, you’ll want to make sure you completely destroy your old hard drive before you recycle the components.

And if you don’t have a trio of adorable kittens handy to dismantle your computer, then the Woodland Daily Democrat has some tips for you:

If you’ve ever wondered how to be sure some crook can’t steal the information stored on your personal computer when you get rid of it, federal officials recommend “pounding with a hammer.”

The idea is to “disfigure, bend, mangle, or otherwise mutilate the hard drive so that it cannot be reinserted into a functioning computer,” according to the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology in its “Guidelines for Media Sanitization.”

The advice might seem peculiar in this tech-savvy age. But it reflects a fundamental problem people face when discarding their computers and smartphones. Other methods commonly used to eliminate stored bank records, Social Security numbers, and other confidential┬ádata can’t always be counted on to work, experts warn.

Because simply hitting your computer’s delete button won’t eliminate what’s stored on its drive, one popular alternative is to use special software that wipes the information clean by writing over it with random data. Microsoft recommends Active@KillDisk or Softpedia DP Wiper software, which can be freely downloaded.

However, that approach isn’t foolproof, according to the federal Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

“While experts agree on the use of random data, they disagree on how many times you should overwrite to be safe,” it warned in a report on disposing of computing devices. “While some say that one time is enough, others recommend at least three times.”

Consequently, it agreed with the idea that “physical destruction is the ultimate way to prevent others from retrieving your information.”

Don’t forget to properly recycle the other landfill-unfriendly element in your computer. Davis Waste Removal can help you with that.

Happy smashing!