Wipe Your Data!

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Donating your computer to a worthy cause

Donating your computer will help keep land fills smaller...

Things you should do before donating your computer!

One of the reasons for giving to charity is to help the needy, the poor, or those that would otherwise be with out.

Point # 1: Not all solicitors for donations are beyond reproach. There are those that make a living off of the gullible. I am not here to preach to you but to inform you. With this information you can safe guard your ID, your data, your family.

Point # 2: Do not assume that when you are giving a PC to charity that the receiving charity will not look at the data on the computer and use it, remember when you buy software you get one license to install and use that software on one computer! Unless you are a Corporation and are buying a bulk license. DO NOT leave any data on the computer!

Point # 3: If you are donating your computer to a charitable organization, you may be able to take a tax deduction for its present value (not what you paid for it new). You should ask your tax advisor for advice on the amount of deduction to take, but be sure to request a receipt from the organization to have as proof of the donation.

Ok, now we got that outa the way so let's git down ta buzness.

Donating your computer considerations:

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You will want to insure you use a reputable hard drive wiping program that will erase the hard drive to a point that it would cost more than the data is worth to recover it. Any program that has the US Department of Defense 5220.22 M compliant rating (or MIL SPEC 5220.22) will do this.

You can get trial software to do your wiping, one I am going to review is called  Active@ KillDisk, This is a program that will wipe a hard drive from DOS or from Windows. I would suggest you do it from DOS with the external power adapter plugged in for a laptop because it will take some time. Like the defragmenter it depends on how big the drive is and how many iterations you select for the wipe.

How it works:

The wipe data or wipe hard drive  program has to have exclusive control of the drive, thus it is better to do this from the DOS, not Windows Operating System. The program will write a series of 1's and 0's in what is called a 5220.22 M pattern, some programs will use a random pattern for each iteration. I won't go into details on how it is done but it will take some time to complete each pass you set the program to run.

The reason for wiping your hard drive is to remove all traces of your data and activities. Once the wipe is complete even the experts will have a hard time recovering any data from the drive.

Program tested:

Before donating your computer use the Active@ KillDisk.

There are two different modes of running this program, both from DOS. One is from a floppy disk, the other is from a CD. You can download a zip file that you open and put the program on a pre configured boot floppy, or you can use their program that will create the boot floppy with the program on it. Or if you have cd burning software you can burn the bootable CD. If you are undecided you can download their free suite of programs that contains all three methods.

The free version only does one pass of all zeros, to get a more comprehensive wipe you will have to purchase the program.

To wipe a 12 gig hard drive in a Pentium III laptop it took approximately 45 minutes for one pass. So if you had a 40 GB hard drive and made one pass you are looking at a little over two hours. If you purchase the program and ran it for three passes it would be six hours to complete.

There are a lot of other programs out on the web that will do the same thing but I could not find any others that had a trial period or were free.

"The bottom line when donating a computer to  a charitable cause is to insure you don't donate your data to someone that will use it to steal from you."

As always how much is your data, ID, and family security worth?

I will not advise on where to donate your computer. I am how ever a retired military and would like to see laptops donated to our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen overseas in harms way. The full story is here about donating old laptops: donate-a-laptop



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