Should hard drives be destroyed or wiped?

Graham Cluley

BBC News Online, one of the most popular websites in the UK, is running a story today advising people not to wipe old hard disks, but to take a hammer to them instead.

The story claims that secure data erasure isn’t as safe as it makes out, and the only real security when disposing of an old drive is to smash it to smithereens.

Sorry, but I just don’t buy this advice.

I started out my career in the computer security business some 17-odd years ago working for a firm called S&S International. Aside from producing Dr Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit, which I was a fresh-faced Windows programmer for, they also had a nice line in data recovery.

Regularly I would see the teams working on hard disks that had been accidentally covered in tea (sugary tea is the worst – hot and sticky), accidentally fallen out of the window even lost over the side of a cross-channel ferry!


Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, on Mastodon at @[email protected], or drop him an email.