Some people think that their data will be cleared completely (can’t be recovered) after they emptied the Recycle Bin or formatted the hard drive.

Yet, it is not true. A study has been conducted and the result shows there are still data retained on the old used hard drives.

In the era of digital data, many people know the importance of data security, but few of them are aware of the data remanence problem.

To sell used hard drives is a good thing for saving money and resource recycling. However, it is dangerous to sell hard disk online since the buyer may be able to access the personal and confidential information of the previous owner.

Is It a Good Idea to Buy and Use a Second-Hand Hard Drives?
Is It a Good Idea to Buy and Use a Second-Hand Hard Drives?

Is it safe to use a second-hand HDD? In this post, you can find the pros and cons of buying a used hard drive.

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A Study Shows It Is Not Safe to Sell Used Hard Drives

The Blancco Technology Group conducted a study called The Leftovers: A Data Recovery Study. They bought 200 drives (93% of them are hard drives) from eBay and Craigslist.

Never Selling an Old Hard Drive Casually

The digital forensics experts worked on these drives and found:

  • At least 78% of the old drives have residual data.
  • 67% of the used drives contain personal data.
  • 11% of the second-hand drives include sensitive corporate data.
  • The experts are able to extract company emails from 9% of searched drives.
  • 5% of the spreadsheets are sales projections and 3% of them are actual customer data.
  • As for the personal information that is recovered from the used drives, 43% are photos, 23% are social security numbers, 21% are financial data, and 10% are CVs.
  • Government security clearance, family passports, birth certificates, financial records, and photos & documents containing pupils’ names & grades are founded on the old drives.

The fact is anyone with basic IT literacy can get access to the residual data from the previous owner. As a result, it is not secure to sell old hard drives since the residual information could be used by cyber criminals.

How to recover data from a hard drive easily?

What to Do with Old Hard Drives

You can find a lot of used hard drives for sale on eBay or other second-hand goods markets. Should you buy used hard drives?

One of the best things about buying used hard drives is that the price is pretty low. Yet, you must face up to the following two problems:

  • Both personal and business data belong to the previous user could be found and recovered.
  • Some people even sell broken hard drives online.

The first issue is easy to deal: you can just buy used hard drives and ignore the data remanence.

If you have bought a broken hard drive unfortunately, you should backup important data regularly in case of unexpected accidents.

How to dispose of used hard drives? There are often two commonly used ways: deleting files & emptying Recycle Bin and formatting the hard drive.

Is Empting Recycle Bin Enough

All computer users know data can be recovered from Recycle Bin easily after being deleted from hard drive. It’s not strange to see someone asking is deleting a file and emptying my Recycle Bin enough on the internet.

Empty Recycle Bin

In fact, even you delete a file permanently by pressing “Shift + Delete” or by emptying Recycle Bin, it can be recovered. Many data recovery tools are able to finish Recycle Bin Recovery and they don’t require any experience or professional knowledge.

Is It Safe to Sell Old Used Hard Drives after Formatting

It’s easy to format a hard drive on computer or other device:

  1. Select the target drive.
  2. Click format button.
  3. Wait for the process to complete.

System says formatting will erase all data on it. So is it safe to sell your hard drive after getting it formatted? Of course not! There are still tools to help people recover data from formatted hard drive with ease.

formatting a drive

What is the safest way to clear data?

Definitely, you should wipe your drives completely before you are ready to sell second hand hard drive. Click here to see how to wipe disk easily.

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