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Top tips for deleting data permanently

Erase files forever with our comprehensive guide

Encrypt your data

None of the methods we’ve talked about so far will prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands if your PC is stolen since it’s your active data that will be at risk. If data security is a big concern it's worth encrypting sensitive files. To find out how, see our guide to Cryptainer LE.

Destroy your disks

Data can be effectively deleted from a hard disk using nothing more than a secure deletion utility. However, if you take the view that anything less than physically destroying the disk isn’t good enough, here are a few suggestions.

Bear in mind that we’re not recommending the methods here (there's really no need) and they all carry the risk of injury. Remember that some disks contain glass platters which could shatter and cut you and if your PC no longer has any value to you, it’s possible that a charity could benefit from it. With these caveats in mind, let's get on to the fun stuff.

When you remove a disk from a PC, the most easily accessible part will be the circuit board on the bottom and, as such, the easiest way to abuse the drive would be to get to work on that board with a hammer and chisel. But while that might be the simplest approach it would be futile.

This isn’t where the data is stored and if someone were to replace that board they’d be able to read your data. Instead, any attempt at destroying a disk should concentrate on the platter or platters – the silver disk(s) that you’ll see once you remove the screws (some of which may be hidden under labels, and use security heads) and take the drive apart.

Destroyed disk

Just scratching the platter(s) with a screwdriver will suffice even though it’s not a particularly satisfying experience. If you really want to release that pent-up energy, a sledge hammer would be sure to do the trick quite nicely.

If, on the other hand, you consider yourself something of a pyromaniac, a conflagration will also ensure that your data never sees the light of day again – heating up the platters to a red glow with a blow torch would be just perfect as would dropping it into the heart of a garden fire. If you have an angle grinder to hand, that will be pretty effective, too.

Hard disk cut with angle grinder

These are just a few sure-fire favourites but all that stands between you and an exciting way to wipe out your disk from the face of the earth is your imagination.

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