The excitement sets in. You can’t wait to get a new computer. However, you have to sell your old one first. That’s not a problem because you can always sell it online. Just as soon as you delete all the data in your computer, you can start selling it online. Easy as a pie, right?

Apparently, it’s not that easy. You see, you might be giving more than just a hardware. The data, you thought you deleted, could easily be retrieved by the buyer.

A team of researchers purchased some second-hand hard drives on Ebay that still had some data stored on them.

After applying data recovery tools to those drives, they found that 42% of them had at least some data. Even more concerning, about three out of every 20 of the drives had personally identifiable information, including scanned images of passports and birth certificates, as well as financial records.

Some of the drives also included corporate data. One had 5GB of archived internal email messages from a major travel company, and another, 3GB of shipping details and other data from a cargo/freight company. A third drive included data from a software developer that had what was described as a “high level of government security clearance.”


Maybe the previous owners tried to delete their data or maybe they didn’t. The point is, fragments of data were easily retrieved with the use of some recovery tools. That is really scary. It’s pretty evident that  those hard drives weren’t cleaned out well.

Obviously, it takes a lot to clean out a hard drive.

Consumers who even bother to remove data from their drives either delete certain files individually, or attempt to reformat that drive, thinking any existing files may be overwritten.

But “formatting is not the same thing as removing data,” says Fredrik Forslund, vice president of cloud and data erasure at Blancco, who adds that there are two ways for doing so in Windows – a quicker less secure method and way deeper format method. But even deep formatting, he says, leaves some data behind, where it could be surfaced by an individual or company with the proper recovery tools.


Fredrik adds that manually deleting data isn’t foolproof as well.

You can, of course, continue to manually delete files of sensitive documents or pictures, keeping in mind that doing so isn’t foolproof either.

“It’s like reading a book and removing the table of contents or the pointer in the file system to that file,” says Forslund. “But the entire data in that file remains on the hard drive so anyone can download freeware recovery software, run it, and get all the data back.”

The other thing you might do is consider your risk. Are you likely to be targeted? Does your drive have personal stuff blended with stuff from your employer?


If you have both personal and business data stored in your hard drive, you need to make sure that they’re all totally deleted. Before handing over your hard drive to its new owner, you need to make sure there aren’t any traces of your personal and business files. Keep in mind that your personal and business files are worth more than just the hard drive you’re selling.

With that in mind, the most important thing for you to do before selling your old computer is to take it to the experts at

Their various laptop data recovery services not only protect your personal and business files, they also ensure that your hard drive is cleaned out. Don’t take the risk of thinking that you’ve deleted all your files from your old hard drive. Let the experts do it for you. You will have peace of mind as you put your computer up for sale.