Be careful what you do with that old stack of zip disks, the USB that went thru the laundry, or that ancient 1G drive. Don’t just toss them out, and even if you donate them to charity, please ensure they’re completely wiped before you do.
…a third of all secondhand hard drives are not properly wiped before being resold. The criticism applies to drives previously owned by companies, as well as individuals.
The study, conducted in Australia, the UK, Germany and the US, found that 37% of 350 used hard drives bought either online, at retail outlets, or at computer fairs, still contained sensitive data.
Information retrieved from the drives included bank and credit-card information, salary details, medical records, e-commerce purchase histories, and, in the case of former company drives, corporate financial data.
Formatting a disk or deleting files only changes a few pieces of data that identify the location of the files held on the disk, making them ready for overwriting. However, until that data is actually overwritten, these files can be recovered using freely available software.