02 January, 2007

Deleted Data Isn't Really Gone

informit.com posted a great article on how to retrieve deleted data from memory cards. They did an experiment where they purchased 14 memory cards from eBay, and in most cases, were able to retrieve deleted data.
Statistically, this indicates that 78% of the cards we obtained on eBay contained recoverable data. In total, we found 240 pictures, 17 movies, and a wide range of files from the card with computer files.
This was a follow up from an exercise in 2004 where they bought 10 used, formatted hard drives. In both cases, unless you know how to completely erase your data, they are suggesting physical destruction.
Fortunately, deleting the data is not too difficult or expensive. If you are a Windows XP Professional owner, then you already have the tools needed to ensure your drive is clean. All you need to do is click Start — Run and type in cmd. Then at the command prompt, type in the following:

cipher /w:[drive letter]: Where [drive letter] should be replaced by the media card drive letter that is listed in Windows Explorer.
The article also describes another option, software called Eraser. The writers also describe the process used for the recovery.

So before you discard your next drive or memory card, be sure that you have properly destroyed your data.

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