Good Questions: How Do I Really Erase Data?

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Dear AT: HT,
I just bought a new laptop. Now I have to move all my files over from my old one. But I've heard that once that's done there is still information encrypted on the computer that needs to be erased. How do I get rid of ALL the information on the old computer so I can then get rid of it?
Thanks, Anne

Anne,

The amount of work you need to do is debatable, and depends on the level of perceived security you want. We found this discussion on metafilter where opinions vary on just what you need to do to completely erase data. Personally, we'd be fine with doing a low-level format(as opposed to a quick) of the hard drive and moving on, but we're not worried about anyone actually trying to get their hands on any of our data. There are also various "scrub" or "sanitize" programs that essentially perform multiple formats (this site at the University of Illinois explains this further.) Anyone have a favorite program or method of securing sensitive data?

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