Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Don't give away secrets with that old PC

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 22, 1999 - If last year is any indication, this holiday season thousands of used personal computers will be donated by corporations and individuals to various education and nonprofit organizations. Computer data recovery experts at ONTRACK Data International, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONDI), Minneapolis, caution individuals or organizations interested in donating their used PCs not to give away their personal or confidential data in the process.
“December is a perfect time to donate used personal computers,” said Jim Reinert, director of worldwide software for Ontrack, a leading provider of data availability software and service solutions. “It marks the end of a tax year, allowing individuals and organizations to gather those last few available write-offs.”
But as PC users upgrade to new and speedier platforms and send their obsolete systems to new owners, crucial information often goes with the old computer, from work projects and personal finances to love letters, email messages, frequently visited web sites and more. Before selling or donating old personal computers, Ontrack advises that users take extra precautions to make sure the PC hard drive is truly erased. Otherwise, confidential - or embarrassing - information may be shared with the PC's new owner.
“Merely deleting files off soon-to-be-donated computers isn't enough,” according to Reinert. “Deleted computer files aren't really gone, they're just hidden. It's not very difficult for someone who knows what they're doing to resurrect them. Even formatting the hard drive will still leave information that can be recovered by an expert.”
But users can protect themselves from sharing sensitive or confidential information. Experts at Ontrack outlined the following tips on how PC users can prepare their used computer for donation or resale:
  • Back up - It is important to be thorough. Back up important data from the PC and verify that the backup is successful. This also serves as an inventory of all files that were on the PC.
  • Scrub - To ensure the maximum level of protection of personal, sensitive or confidential data, use a software utility that performs a complete data scrubbing operation. A data scrubbing utility such as Ontrack DataEraser (available at http://www.ontrack.com/dataeraser) will completely erase the hard disk of all data. This will ensure that another individual or even experts cannot view, access or recover any data that was previously stored on the computer.
  • Reload - Optionally, once the computer has been scrubbed, the original operating system and applications from the manufacturer can be reloaded. These are usually contained on a set of floppies or an emergency restore CD that came with the PC. If donating applications or other software, provide the manuals and original media (CD or floppy) with the computer so it can be reinstalled.

Ontrack, a leading provider of data availability software and service solutions, helps customers protect, back up, recover and discover their valuable data. Using its hundreds of proprietary tools and techniques, Ontrack is able to recover lost or corrupted data from all operating systems and types of storage devices through its do-it-yourself, remote and in-lab capabilities.
Ontrack now offers a line of award-winning software tools to help prevent critical data loss through a broad line of problem-solving, file management and productivity utilities. Ontrack can be reached through its World Wide Web site at http://www.ontrack.com or by calling 800-872-2599 (612-937-5161). In addition to its Minneapolis headquarters, Ontrack operates other locations in Los Angeles, Boulder, Colo., Washington D.C., New York, Tokyo, London, Paris and Stuttgart.

ONTRACK and DATAERASER are trademarks or registered trademarks of ONTRACK Data International, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. All other brands and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.