FIXMYPCUK Computer Repairs

Around the Manchester area

Prevent ID Theft

It's not uncommon for people to get rid of old computers or replace their hard drives as technologies change. What many people don't realise is getting rid of an old computer or hard drive can actually lead to identity theft.

If you have a computer, chances are you're going to replace it at some point in the future.
If you want to protect yourself from identity theft, there are a few things you should know.

  • Throwing your old hard drive in the bin IS DANGEROUS
  • people can undelete ALL of your personal information that you thought you'd deleted
  • This way they can steal ALL of your personal information
  • Such as passwords/addresses
  • and Bank information.
  • The ONLY way to stop identity theft from your old hard drives or computer is to securely shred all of your information that is/was on it.

Securely deleting the information on your hard drive you need to dispose of, or your old computer has 3 major advantages.

  1. You can SELL your old hard drive or computer instead of keeping it stored forever.
  2. You have peace of mind that nobody can ever retrieve the information you had on it.
  3. There is NO risk of identity theft by anyone using your old information.

Deleted Doesn’t Really Mean Erased

If you really want to get rid of data on your computer that could put you at risk of identity theft,
You have 3 choices.

  1. Physical destruction of your hard drive
  2. Smelting (melting the drive)
  3. Electronically shredding the information that was on it
Let's deal with those in the order that is easiest to accomplish.

Electronic Shredding of the hard drive

This can be done by specialist companies but will usually cost a LOT of money.
We are talking about hundreds up to thousands of £'s
This is not realistic for most people

We have the answer... We can securely delete and shred anything that has ever been on your computer, including all the hidden copies and references to files.

This makes it almost impossible for any deleted information to be ever recovered or viewed.

Please note this will take up to 2 days to complete.

Physical Destruction

This may sound simple and easy however there are some problems
A modern hard drive is made of very hard material and it would take a sledgehammer or something similar to do serious damage.
You could simply take the drive apart and smash every single part inside.
However, in order to make nothing recoverable, you'd have to break every single section which are only millimetres in size.
This is a very tedious and labour intensive procedure which most people simply won't want to do.

Just breaking the platters (discs inside the drive) in a few pieces is probably not enough to make it un-recoverable. Dean Devera (The Difficulty of Data Annihilation from Disk Drives: or Exnihilation Made Easy) remarks:
"It is exceedingly difficult, but not impossible if we're dealing with relatively few pieces. Once reassembled, high-powered magnetic microscopy could then be turned to the media surface. [...] But the possibility of platter reconstruction exists, however minute." (Devera D, 2001)


This is probably the most effective and is the preferred method by some governments for hard drives with ultra high sensitivity material on it.
However again we come into a problem as this is not an option for a "normal" person.

Smelting or pulverizing (smashing) the platters of a hard drive seem to be the best ways to get rid of your data forever. However you'd have to break every single surface inside your drive that could contain data into sections only millimetres in size.

Put simply, you would have to have a furnace that heats to over 2000°C to destroy data on a hard drive, Which isn't within most people's budgets.

Posted on February 23rd 2013