Erasing vs. Deleting Data: What’s the Difference?

Feb 4, 2020

As a business owner, you naturally want to find ways to maximize every dollar spent.  When it comes to IT equipment, this can be tough – it’s expensive and it has a limited shelf life.  On one hand, you want to make sure you get optimal use value out of equipment and devices, but you may also be interested in the prospect of selling these items down the line to recoup some costs and help to pay for needed upgrades.

There is, of course, another issue involved: the data these devices contain.  Consumer privacy laws demand that you protect confidential, personal information provided to you by customers which includes data disposal.  The general consensus is that the best way to do this is by shredding hard drives and devices that contain data.

However, you’ll find that eliminating data in order to remarket devices is also acceptable in some cases, as long as you do it properly.  This means you have to erase (or wipe) data, rather than delete it.

Here’s what you need to know to protect your company and your customers.

What Happens When You Delete Data?

When you delete a file from your computer, it goes into the recycle bin, giving you a chance to reclaim it if you made a mistake.  As you clear out the recycle bin periodically, you might think the files you deleted are gone forever, but this isn’t necessarily true.

What happens when you delete files?  The file icon, or the pathway to reach it, is removed from your desktop or the folder where it was saved, but the data remains on your hard drive.  The space is simply freed up to house new files.

Your computer may eventually overwrite that space on your hard drive as you save other files, thus eliminating the data, but until then, it can be found and recovered.  In other words, this is not a reliable way to permanently remove sensitive information, and it does not comply with your obligation to dispose of data in keeping with privacy laws.

How Erasing Data is Different

Erasing data involves a targeted effort to fully eliminate data from your hard drive.  With appropriate wiping software, you can overwrite your entire hard drive with junk data, in the form of zeros or ones.  For safety, this process should be completed several times, followed by testing to ensure that none of the original data remains.  Aside from shredding your hard drive, this is the only acceptable way to dispose of data.

Finding a Trusted Partner

If you don’t have a seasoned IT staff  at your North Dakota or South Dakota business and you’re new to data disposal, you may want to partner with a certified ITAD services to manage your hard drive wiping or shredding needs.  An experienced vendor remains up-to-date with changing laws in order to comply on your behalf, and will prepare your devices for resale, saving you time and helping recoup costs when possible.

If you’re interested in remarketing devices and you need help ensuring secure and thorough erasure, contact the experts at SEAM today at 605-274-7326 (SEAM) or online to learn more.

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.