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Security against identity theft & tips for cleaning hard drives.

Identity Theft
Identity theft is a horrible crime. By taking some of your personal and private information a thief can steal from your bank accounts, charge items in your name, and damage your credit.

One place where you may have personal information stored is on your computer. If you have phone numbers, social security numbers, or financial information like bank account and credit card numbers, or your mothers maiden name, you are LOOKING FOR TROUBLE if you do not DESTROY that information. Here are my suggestions for destroying your information & fighting this crime.

Files on REMOVABLE MEDIA (floppy disks, burned CD-ROMs, ZIP & Tape Drives, etc.): The most foolproof method is to destroy the media by chopping up, shredding, or breaking up the media. If you wish to reuse the media you can use data destruction software to overwrite the media with multiple (3+) passes (See information below for data destruction overwrite software).

Getting Rid of your Old Computer? or Changing your Hard Drive?
Clean off your files! If your hard drive is small (2 gigs or less) you can consider 'degausing' the drive (running an electromagnet across and around the harddrive). This destroys all data, and also makes the drive UNUSABLE junk. DO NOT DEGAUSS IF YOU WANT TO RE-USE A HARD DRIVE. A friendlier way to destroy data, and still be able to REUSE the drive is by using software application programs like: Troubleshooter, Active@Killdisk, DataEraser, or WipeDrive, etc..

1) The program Troubleshooter (call 800 653-4933; Matt McClure, ext. 1243) is DOS bootable and checks many aspects of a computer. It contains a "low-level initialize" utility that zeroes out the hard drive and the master boot record, while maping the hard drive and identifying any bad sectors. It overwrites the drive AND tests it at the same time.

2) Active@Killdisk: Runs from diskette (boot your system from this disk). Runs from DOS. Zeroes out the hard drive and the master boot record. A FREE download version is available from the LSoft Technologies website, www.lsoft.net. Easy to work with. Can manually do multiple passes. Professional version that conforms to US Department of Defense 5220.22-M available for purchase on website. Does multiple passes of overwrite with 0's, 1's, and random data.

3) DataEraser: Runs from diskette; runs from DOS. Zeroes out specific partitions of a drive, or overwrites the entire drive. More information is available from the Ontrack Software website at www.ontrack.com.

4) WipeDrive: Boots from DR DOS diskette. "Sanitizes" all data. Unlimited number of disk wipes per license. Try product or purchase license at "White Canyon Software" website at www.whitecanyon.com.

5) Norton (Symantec) provides a wipe-info utility. It is selective, and we were not able to wipe the master boot record and DOS boot record. Please see the "Symantec" website at www.symantec.com for more details.

Remember: When you have equipment to donate for reuse, working or nonworking, it has a better chance for reuse if you leave all the parts in it.

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