How Much Data Is Left On A Computer Without A Wipe Tool?
Why Does Data Remain?
Data is stored on your hard drive in blocks. Each block has an address.
Files are an address to a particular block of data or sequence of blocks
When You Delete A File:
- The address associated with the file is now freed
- That means the file system is allowed to write new data to these addresses.
- However, to save time, it doesn't actually remove the old data.
- It may write over the old data later, but only if it needs to
How Much Data Is Left?
- Until the data is overwritten, all of it remains on the hard drive at the same address.
- To read that data again, all you need is software that accesses the residual blocks directly at that address.
How Long Does The Old Data Remain?
- Size of the drive - If there is enough empty space available, most hard drives will write to that instead of overwriting old data.
- Usage of the drive - Frequent use of smaller files makes overwriting the old data statistically more likely over time.
Sensitive Data That Can Remain:
- Identifiying Information
- Customer Databases
- Business Intelligence
- Intellectual Property
- Trade Secrets
How To Make Data Unrecoverable
How it works: Old data is specifically overwritten with a random dymmy sequence or sequence of zeros.
Note: Several passes may be required to ensure no trace of data is left
Is hard drive usable again? Yes
How it works: Hard drive is mechanically destroyed in a purpose-built shredding unit
Note: Without wiping first, some data could still be recoverable from drive fragments
Is hard drive usable again? Note
How it works: Hard drive is run through a strong magnet field to destroy data
Note: Only works on magnetic drives and not newer technology like Solid-State Drives (SSDs).
Is hard drive usable again? No
If It's Not Wiped, It's Not Safe
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