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What is a Data Eraser?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Sometimes referred to as a server or hard drive eraser, the data eraser is a program that helps to remove unwanted programs, files, and other data from hard drives or servers. Companies as well as individuals utilize this type of computer erasing tool, making it more difficult for sensitive information to fall into the hands of the wrong people. Erasing software of this type can be downloaded from the Internet, while more comprehensive tools can be purchased at any office or computer store.

In most cases, the data eraser functions by writing over data. The manner of the overwriting completely obscures the data and makes it impossible to retrieve any information without the use of extremely sophisticated equipment. Some drive eraser programs claim to complete obliterate the data so that even the most advanced of techniques cannot recover a portion of the erased data. However, this claim is subject to debate.

The typical data eraser program has the ability to conduct a wholesale sweep of the server or hard drive, effectively removing all data stored on the facility. However, it is also possible to identify specific files and other forms of data and tag them for deletion. This makes it possible to delete data that is no longer needed and preserve other data for future use.

Companies often make use of a data eraser when upgrading various types of computer equipment. For example, when a business chooses to retire older laptops and donate them to charity, they will first save all important files to some sort of data storage device, then perform a computer wipe using the erasing tool. Once the hard drive is found to be free of all data, the laptop can safely be passed on to an entity outside the company with no worries about accidentally leaking proprietary information.

Along with a hard drive wipe, it is not unusual for businesses to also use erasing tools to make a clean sweep before a server is retired. Usually, key data is uploaded to the new server as well as a backup device first. Once the presence of the data on the new server is confirmed, the data eraser is activated and the old server is completely wiped. As with laptop hard drives, erasing the stored data on a server ensures that the information does not get into the wrong hands and cause problems for the company.

Individuals can also make use of a data eraser. The tool can be used to remove even the hard-to-detect duplicates of files such as Internet browsing activity, images and graphics, documents, and any other data that is usually stored in several caches around a hard drive. While erasing tools for individual use are usually not as comprehensive as those used by businesses, they are helpful in freeing up drive space by removing hidden files that are not likely to be needed at any time in the future.

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