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April 10th, 2005

Destroy Your Data

As I’ve alluded to this past week on the Ping, I’ve got a new computer. It’s also time to sell the old one (and it’s on eBay) but in the interim I was concerned: what about all that data on the hard drive? Sure, a simple format will kind of take care of it.

I was pleased to see, though, that OS X provided not one but two options. The first one was to write zeroes to the entire hard drive. The second was to write random data to the disk eight times. I’m not sure why eight, but… okay! I ultimately chose to do both. I like that it was an easy process.

I don’t know if it’s a little too paranoid, but when throwing out CDs and DVDs I’ll scratch up the surface something awful. It’s kind of like shredding a credit card, I guess. I’m not the only one that does this, right?

Posted in Technology

FROM: Monica
DATE: Sunday April 10, 2005 -- 12:44:50 pm
Eight is a number associated with death, I thought--death to data! mwahaha!

FROM: heather
DATE: Sunday April 10, 2005 -- 4:29:13 pm
Nope, I scratch and break my cd-roms before tossing them into the trash.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday April 10, 2005 -- 6:06:37 pm
Snap them in half, baby. Works every time.

Although I need a new paper shredder, and there are new models of shredders that now shred your old CD's and DVD's. Might be a good option.

DATE: Sunday April 10, 2005 -- 7:01:51 pm
Are these data cd's or just music and movies? I never really throw out cd's i might need them later.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday April 10, 2005 -- 8:16:36 pm
Even eight writes will not completely destroy things. It's amazing what is recoverable. But after enough writes it's very, very improbable that anyone can get your data.

Personally, I enjoy dismantling the hard drive. The platters are nice and shiny, display well, and after enough oxidation (and etching) are relatively clean. But that's a lot of work.

And just breaking CDs/DVDs in half does little, if someone gets both halves. Even if they do not, hey, they have half of your data? Completely unmangled?

It's a lot of work to get data off of lightly mangled things. But that does not make it impossible.

Shredding a credit card? I cut mine into probably 32 pieces, tossing samples into four different trash cans (that will probably go out to the dumpster in four different loads). Making sure that the pieces that make up the numbers, or my real name, do not all end up in the same batch.

Paranoid? Maybe. Safe, and not really requiring much time or thought? Yes.

So, as you ask, a little too paranoid? I don't think so. But then, I know what's possible with technology. It's scary. These news stories you hear about identity theft are petty instances, compared to what is possible.

Possible, of course, not probable. Depends on what you want to defend against.

FROM: dux
DATE: Monday April 11, 2005 -- 3:39:32 am
just trow you cd into te microwave and nuke the basterd.. you get somekind of lightning effect and the silver layer is completely destroyed..

just if you want to be really secured ;-)

FROM: odartey [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday April 11, 2005 -- 7:59:09 am

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday April 11, 2005 -- 2:05:31 pm
dux: That's a really good way to damage your microwave, too. The sparks connect the CD to the microwave generator... can't be good for it.

I've heard that bleach will completely eat off the writable layer on CDRs/CDRWs. But that feels dangerous to me, and I would not trust the fumes not to be bad for your health.

DATE: Friday June 3, 2005 -- 3:55:05 pm
Interesting. Me thinks the bleach cant be any worse than fumes from burning them, or microwaving them. I'd still scrape the sucker on concrete for good measure.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday June 4, 2005 -- 7:00:07 pm
Well, yes. The fumes aren't much worse than melting plastic would be. But they're worse than no fumes at all...

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