Roger has a bunch of old hard drives and wants to know how to wipe them so his data doesn't get compromised. Leo says that you can take the hard drives apart and hit them with a hammer, that pretty much solves the problem, but it can be a bit dangerous and platters are sometimes made of glass and can shatter. You can use a secure eraser like Derik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It will write over and erase the data up to 7 times. That usually makes sure the data is unrecoverable. A giant magnet will also work, like SUPER STRONG. A good eWaste recycler should have one.
Duke wants to replace his hard drive. How can he get wipe the drive securely before recycling it? Leo recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It uses military-grade erasing techniques to completely wipe the drives. What about those computers that aren't running? Leo says to take them out of a non-working computer and use a universal drive adapter by Newertech. Then you can connect it to a working computer and wipe the drive.
Robert has a bunch of old computers and wants to know if it's safe to bring them to e-waste collection. Can they get to my data even if I wipe the drives? Leo says it depends on how much you trust them. Leo says that data is never really erased, only earmarked to be overwritten. But check to see if they guarantee your data will be wiped. Derik's Boot and Nuke (or DBAN) can do a pretty thorough job though. because it overwrites the drives with random 1s and 0s. Or, just take the hard drive out and donate the rest. You can even then take it apart and destroy it.
Andrew misses FDisk in MSDOS. He liked typing from the command line. Leo says that FDisk still exists in Windows, and when he deletes a partition with it, the data isn't lost, it just loses the structure of partition information. If he wants to erase all the data, Leo recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It erases the data, overwrites the hard drive, erases it and overwrites it again. Seven times. So there's no way the data can be recovered.
Julie recently lost her job after 25 years, and now she has to return the laptop she used. She needs to wipe it first, though. Leo says that laptop is company property and everything on it belongs to them, even if she has personal things saved on it. There is no way they can prevent her from doing it, but Leo advises talking to an attorney before she does.
Dan's computer was damaged and Acer is going to replace it, but he's worried about the data on it. How can he wipe the data? Leo says that there's a program called DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke that can wipe the drive pretty thoroughly. But Dan should understand that an SSD doesn't format the way a spinning hard drive does, and there can and will be some data leak, where someone could grab the data if they're really motivated.
Mike wants to wipe a hybrid SSD using Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). Is that a good idea? Leo says that SSDs are written to differently than spinning drives, and it also uses a technique called "wear leveling," which writes sectors randomly. This makes it difficult to fully and securely wipe a drive to prevent it from being recovered. He can do it to erase a drive, but it won't really remove the data. That's why Leo recommends encryption. Using BitLocker on Windows, or some other technique to secure data with encryption.
Jeff wants to do some spring cleaning by getting rid of some old computers, but is concerned about privacy and the data on the hard drives. Leo says that the easiest thing to do is to simply remove the hard drives. He could also use something like Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) to completely wipe the drive. It erases everything by writing zeros across the drive, and then erases it again. If he does that several times, he'll be safe from everyone save the NSA. Solid State Drives, however, can be easier to get data off of.
Josh has an old HP Stream and he wants to sell it. Leo says it was a nice laptop for its day. How can he wipe his data without having to reinstall the OS? Leo says that Windows does offer recovery tools that will wipe the drive and reset it to a factory state, but it really won't completely get rid of his data. In order to really be sure, he'll need to overwrite the drive several times. Leo advises Darik's Boot and Nuke or DBAN. It'll not only format the drive, but it will overwrite it several times with 1s and 0s to military spec.
Wendy needs to give away her old Dell computers. Does she have to worry about leaving data on the hard drive? Leo says absolutely. If she doesn't take out the hard drive, then the data could be accessed by someone. E-Waste recycling events are great, but before she does that, she should run DBAN to wipe off the hard drive. Then she can give it away with no worries.