While we’ve never sold a hard drive on the second-hand market, we have given drives to friends and thinking back, we can’t recall whether we formatted those drives.

We bring this up because a study commissioned by Comparitech and conducted by the University of Hertfordshire has been published that gives us cause for concern.

That concerns stems from the fact that of 200 second-hand hard drives purchased from online marketplaces and various merchants, 60 percent contained information stored by previous owners.

The university says that the data ranged from official documents, to scans of passports, tax documents, and the list goes on.

As for the rest of the drives, former owners appear to have tried to wipe their drives but some didn’t do it properly. The study found that of the 200 drives, 26 percent were wiped such that no data could be gleaned from them and 16 percent were inaccessible.

Perhaps the most concerning is that six percent of people made no effort whatsoever to wipe data from their drives.

So how does one wipe a hard drive properly?

While simply deleting it sounds like a good method, sometimes data can stick around on a hard drive even if you can’t see it.

For this reason we recommend using a data wiping tool. There are many on the market but we prefer DBAN because it’s free (for personal use) and open-source.

Hard drive manufacturers also often have tools that help you wipe a drive completely. We also recommend encrypting your drives so that even if they are stolen, the data remains secure.

Of course, if you aren’t planning on selling your second-hand drives there is another way, smash the thing with a hammer.

Seriously, if you are getting rid of a hard drive open it up and destroy it. Just make sure you keep the magnets, those things are useful.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]