Data Wiping 101

Data wiping is also known as secure data erasure, but the term(s) can be misleading. The intention of data wiping is to permanently rid a device of old/unwanted files and junk to clear space. The typical deleting process involves putting all those files and junk into the ‘trash’ bin on our desktop. By doing this, we clear up space on our device… or so we think.


Deleting junk doesn’t actually get rid of it

Deleting files doesn’t entirely get rid of them. They may vanish from your folders, but there are still traces of the file left. It’s like when you finish eating, you clear off the remains of your meal into the trash bin, but the plate still contains traces of the meal. The remains will only be entirely gone when the plate has been properly washed and dried.

Electronics are the same way. Data can leave traces in your hard drive where they will stay unnoticed unless properly overwritten. When you save a file to your drive, the device codes the data directly into that drive. When data is written into a drive, metal parts inside the device encode the data into 1s and 0s. The only way to completely be rid of every trace is to overwrite each area where a file’s data use to reside. This can be done by replacing them with straight zeros or straight ones (or any other random overwriting). This not only removes the data, it permanently removes any ability to recover the file(s) through data recovery efforts. Once the data is properly overwritten, it’s gone forever.


So, why do we need to know this?

It’s important to at least understand the fundamentals of erasing data. Since there are traces of that data left, that means it can be retrieved with the right skill set. With just a few clicks, all previous files and data that have not yet been overwritten may be recoverable.

Security is a main concern with data trails. The trail left behind still contains the information that was originally there, which can include sensitive information. The most common time data wiping will occur is when a device is being passed on. Whether it’s sold, donated or gifted, many people make the mistake of not properly wiping their device, putting their private and sensitive information at risk.

When it comes to the data on your computer, it is worth it to spend the extra time and effort educating yourself on the proper ways to save, delete and move the data. If you have questions or are interested in this service, please reach out to us at