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What is a Disk Eraser?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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A disk eraser is a type of software used to complete a hard drive wipe. The goal when using a disk eraser is to sanitize information, including files and folders contained on the hard drive, so that it cannot be recovered by third parties. A disk eraser can be used by businesses, governmental agencies or private citizens who want to protect the sensitive or private information once contained on a hard drive.

For many, an investment in a computer eraser is an investment in peace of mind. The reality is that any computer that has not been properly erased is subject to having its data retrieved, viewed and used by the person doing the recovering. For example, financial information can be retrieved, personal histories and other confidential information like Social Security numbers may recovered and then used to help a third party steal the identity of the the hard drive's former owner.

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An owner may believe that he has removed all personal information from a computer's hard drive by deleting files, moving them to the recycle bin and emptying it, but these actions do not remove the files from the hard drive. The files can still be easily retrieved because the only thing that has changed is the path to the file. Records of where the files can be found even after deletion remain on a computer's File Allocation Table (FAT). Anyone can access the files by simply retrieving the FAT, identifying new file paths and recovering the files using the new paths.

A disk eraser makes recovery of the files difficult by changing file paths and erasing the data. It can overwrite files so that their initial contents cannot be identified. In addition, using a disk eraser on a disk many times can provide extra protection because files will have been overwritten again and again.

Computer wipes can be advantageous in many different industries. However, a disk eraser can come in handy for the average user who decides that he wants to sell, trade, give away or recycle his computer. Short of demagnetizing the disk with a magnet and physically breaking or destroying the disk afterward, a disk eraser is the most efficient way for a computer user to protect himself and his data from prying eyes. Intuitive software makes it easy for users to point and click their way to clean disks. Disk eraser software can be obtained at retail stores or downloaded over the Internet from companies that specialize in computer sanitation.

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