Getting Rid of a Computer? Use a Hammer

What's Hot


The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

How a Mexican Tariff Will Boost the Cost of 6 Common PurchasesFamily

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

How to Protect Yourself From the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Phone ScamFamily

Report: Walmart to Begin Selling CarsCars

Is Your TV Tracking You? Here’s How to Tell — and Prevent ItAround The House

Trump Scraps FHA Rate Cut — What Does It Mean for You?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

11 Staging Tips to Help You Get Top Dollar When Selling Your HomeAround The House

8 Tuition-Free U.S. CollegesCollege

10 Overlooked Expenses That Ruin Your BudgetFamily

4 Car Insurers That Might Raise Rates Even When the Accident Wasn’t Your FaultCars

How to Invest If Trump Kills the ‘Fiduciary Rule’Grow

20 Simple Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last LongerAround The House

12 Surprising Ways to Wreck Your Credit ScoreBorrow

I'm not sure how to hammer this point home, so I'll put it as forcefully as I can: Protect your data!

We’ve covered how to keep data private on your current computer, but what about one that will no longer be in your possession?

Federal officials suggest using a hammer:

The hard drive should then be subjected, in a suitable facility with individuals wearing appropriate safety equipment, to physical force … (e.g., pounding with a hammer … ) that will disfigure, bend, mangle, or otherwise mutilate the hard drive so that it cannot be reinserted into a functioning computer. Sufficient force should be used directly on top of the hard drive unit to cause shock/damage to the disk surfaces.

The San Jose Mercury News discovered that gem of advice from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “Other methods commonly used to eliminate stored bank records, Social Security numbers, and other confidential data can’t always be counted on to work,” the site says. It points to the story of two MIT graduate students who bought used hard drives on eBay and found everything from credit card numbers to old emails and medical records.

Trusting a recycling service to do the job for you also isn’t ideal. Some just collect spare parts and pass on the rest to other companies, the Mercury News says. You never have proof your data was wiped and the device destroyed.

If you want to sell your used devices instead of pulverizing them into worthless scrap, wipe their memory as best you can, while realizing you may not get everything. For PCs, DP Wiper is a free option that overwrites files with random data. Some experts suggest overwriting at least three times to be thorough. For smartphones, Lifehacker has a guide for both Apple and Android devices.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 14 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,802 more deals!