Data erasure is a method of software-based overwriting that completely destroys all electronic data residing on a hard drive or other digital media. Permanent data erasure goes beyond basic file deletion commands, which only remove direct pointers to data disk sectors and make data recovery possible with common software tools. Unlike degaussing and physical destruction, which render the disk unusable, data erasure removes all information while leaving the disk operable, preserving assets and the environment.
Software-based overwriting uses a software application to write patterns of meaningless data onto each of a hard drive’s sectors. There are key differentiators between data erasure and other overwriting methods, which can leave data intact and raise the risk of data breach or spill, identity theft and failure to achieve regulatory compliance. Data erasure also provides multiple overwrites so that it supports recognized government and industry standards. It provides verification of data removal, which is necessary for meeting certain standards.
To protect data on lost or stolen media, some data erasure applications remotely destroy data if the password is incorrectly entered. Data erasure tools can also target specific data on a disk for routine erasure, providing a hacking protection method that is a less time-consuming than encryption.
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