YOUR DIGITAL HISTORY
When you hit “Empty Trash” on your computer, those photos and Word documents don’t get destroyed. They’re just more difficult to access. Operating systems use a master information table to find your files. Hitting Empty Trash deletes only the master-file table reference for that file. The actual data is still on your phone or laptop, just hidden away somewhere. Here’s how to get rid of sensitive information, in ascending level of paranoia:
➨ After you’ve backed up everything or extracted the important files, before you donate or give your laptop or phone away, set a really complicated admin password. Don’t worry about remembering it. ➨ Do a factory reset. The laptop or phone runs like it’s fresh out
of the box. At this point, your old files are still in there, only now they’re protected by that complicated password you set, which turns them into illegible nonsense to anyone trying to get access. ➨ If you’re still worried, fill the device with new data to overwrite your files. Try high-definition
TV seasons. ➨ If even that isn’t enough, a rare-earth magnet distorts hard-drive data beyond reconstruction. ➨ Fine. Now you can get out the drill. Aside from the obvious destruction, the heat it creates will further degrade any remaining data.