Home > backups, Digital Life, New Computer, Used Computer > Does someone else have your data?

Does someone else have your data?

Currently, I am working with a wonderful company that specializes in taking old computers and reselling them.  They are a not-for-profit organization and the proceeds go directly back to the community.  (Watch for a follow-up post on this amazing company and what we did to get them back on the right tech track.)  I had a chance to chat with one of the volunteers who mentioned that fully-functional systems come in with user data still intact.  The company wipes their hard disks without looking at the data, then they resell them.  Over the years, I have purchased several used computers, many of which with user data still accessible.  I have also seen companies toss, give away, or donate their old systems without wiping the system hard drive(s).  How would you feel if someone got their hands on your company data?

Now, you may be thinking that any reputable organization will be completely wiping the hard disks. Think again.  In 2011, Staples Canada was found to be re-selling computers with the previous owners data still intact.

Consider how much personal and private data you have on your computer.  Everything from banking information to email correspondence, from online purchases to other delicate data.  And I don’t know about you, but I used to have a bad habit of clicking the “remember my username and password” button on websites.  If I had given away or sold my system, the new owner would have had access to a variety of websites, including my bank and email accounts.

Before saying goodbye to your system, you should always wipe the hard drive, or even destroy it.  If your local repair shop or IT Pro has replaced the hard drive, ask for your original back or ensure the data on the original unit has been erased.  If you want to do this yourself, click here for a great how-to.  If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, most IT Pros will do it for minimal cost.

Taking the time to wipe your hard drive protects you, your data, and your privacy.

What would you do if your new system had somebody else’s data on it?

  1. Myke
    02/25/2014 at 12:06 am

    Hi Sharon,
    I just purchased a used drive on ebay and it clearly has someone else’s data on it. What is the right think to do? Should I look and see if there’s an email i can find or something to contact the person? I just dont want to be liable for anything but i know how important data is, and would hate to know that maybe someone stole this and now this comp is in pieces and i could get someone there data which is very dear to a lot of people. So once again is there a right way to deal with this situation?

    • 02/25/2014 at 7:10 pm

      Hi,

      Honestly, I would format the drive and then use it. I would think if there was something important on it they would have noticed by now.

      Sharon

      • 03/01/2014 at 2:16 pm

        That is awful. I would let the store know that their tech’s did not wipe the drive.

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