Many laptops have a long useful life. But one way or another, you will need to upgrade it eventually. But what should you do with your previous laptop? If you're planning to give it away, you might want to take some precautions depending on who it is, their tech level and how concerned you are. You don't want anyone sneaking through your private photos or sensitive information. To avoid this, you need to clean the data off your drive before disposing or upgrading it.
Many drives come with Bitlocker so within Windows you could encrypt your drive… But you may not use it and many people like the ability to if the drive has an issue, simply connect it via USB or other hardware and see and access files for retrieval.
Overview of Hard Drive Technology
A Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is a fixed storage device that stores data magnetically. The data files are saved on the surface of rotating magnetic platters enclosed within the drive case. During retrieval and writing of data, the hard drive converts the magnetic platter surface into binary code. When you save documents, photos, etc. on your drive, they are stored in rows of zeros and ones. Hard Drive SSD and ATA Explained
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When you delete a file, those ones and zeros remain unchanged until they are entirely overwritten with new ones. What of drive formatting? The same case applies. The data is not entirely wiped out.
Magnetic drives are mentioned here but faster, lighter SSD Hard drives are the new default storage so if you want to have read it is covered here.
How to Wipe Your Laptop Drive
Wiping a hard drive is not the same as formatting the drive or deleting data. Deleting data hides it from an instant view or search up. This does not permanently free the data, as a data recovery software can retrieve the files. On the same scale, formatting does not erase the data. It is akin to deleting sections of a book without rearranging the actual chapters. Interesting, right?
What is the Magic Behind Drive Wiping?
It can be confusing to learn how drive wiping works, but deletion and formatting do not permanently clear your drive.
As highlighted above, HDD/SSD stores data in binary form. For a total overhaul of your drive, you need to get rid of the existing binary data. This means replacing the real zeros and ones with new ones; new data. Replacing and overwriting the binary data of a file by new data renders it unrecoverable forever.
Just before wiping out your laptop Hard Drive and before pressing OK on your laptop screen, consider the following:
Back up your prime data securely. Drive wiping leads to loss of all data permanently!
Confirm your battery is full. Power outages during drive wiping are a disaster!
Download any custom drivers. If you are upgrading your laptop drive, you want to use tried driver utilities.
Save your software licenses and keys. It makes no sense to repurchase your software licenses.
Install drive wipe software. Select an efficient and easy-to-use utility for your task.
With that, you now have the green light to proceed.
Option 1: Freeing your Laptop Drive with Eraser Software
DiskGenius is one most preferred erasure utility. Here are some fantastic features of this software:
Wipes out deleted data without altering existing files.
It is portable: 32 bit and 64 bits.
Compatible with various storage devices: External hard disk, Internal hard drive, SSD drive, etc.
Creation of bootable USB drive in case your laptop fails to boot.
Scenario A: Wiping laptop’s main drive
To wipe out your laptop’s drive where Windows is installed, follow these steps:
Run the DiskGenius tool from your computer.
Click File and select Reboot to DiskGenius.
Wait for about three minutes for the software to build the required boot information.
Click the OK button to backup data, and your laptop restarts.
Select the main drive where Windows is installed and click on Erase Sectors in the Tools menu bar.
Press on the Erase button to initiate drive wipe out.
Make a new installation of your operating system in case you need to boot your laptop system.
Scenario B: Erasing an External Hard Drive
Connect your external drive to your laptop and ensure Windows detects it.
Click on the drive you want to wipe. In the Tools menu, select Erase Sector.
Click Erase to initialize the data clean up.
Scenario C: Clearing specific folders/files
Run the DiskGenius software and select the folders or files to delete permanently.
Right-click and click on Delete Files Permanently.
Click on the Delete button to execute your command.
Option 2: Freeing your laptop drive by resetting the system
Click on the Start Menu and navigate to settings. Select the Upgrade and Security option.
Click the Recovery option and select the Get Started button.
Click on the “Remove everything” tab to wipe out all your data.
Select the Remove files and Clean drive option.
Click the Next and Reset button to execute your selections.
Option 3: Wiping your MacBook laptop drive in macOS
The procedure is no different than that of Windows.
Click your Application folder and select Disk Utility and open it.
Select Show all devices in the new window that pops up.
Select the drive you want to erase and click the Erase button at the top of the window.
Make the necessary selections as prompted.
Confirm by clicking the Erase button to execute your selections.
Option 4: Clearing your laptop drive by physically wrecking it
If you need double surety that your data will never be recoverable and you do not want to reuse or donate the drive, destroy your drive physically. Get a magnet and run it over your drive. This deforms the drive platters rendering the data unreadable. Or if you want to go further unscrew your drive and dismantle the platters and circuit board.
Or just smash it to bits especially the platters if older HDD or break the boards up if SSD. Or for dramatic affect lie they do on the TV why not drill the drive or unit... I would not reccomend ever copying the TV and film say Mr Robot, and putting your drive in the for some minutes in a Microwave. Hammer the platters till they get cratered and dimpled. Pack the components and toss them into the trash box.
Wiping your Laptop or Desktop Drive With Ease with a variety of options to choose from, you will no longer panic over wiping out your laptop drive. From the digital clean up methods to physically destroying your drive, you now have the power of your drive in your hands. Use the methods highlighted above for a hassle-free drive wiping.