Sold External HD and have security questions

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Lee Potts, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Lee Potts macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #1
    I can't seem to find anything identical to my case so I figured you guys would know. What happened was I sold my Seagate external HD on amazon that I previously used for time machine. I did the "erase" function in disk utility but I did not use the erase free space option because I didn't understand what it would do and I was in a rush. So basically my question is, how secure is my information of TM against hacking?

    Also, I formated it for FAT32 for windows users, so I dont know if this will affect anything.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Location:
    forlod bygningen
    #2
    Use Disk Utility to securely erase the HDD and format it with FAT32 or whatever you like, the new owner will obviously format it again, but to be on the safe side, FAT32 will be okay.

    But do the secure erase first, meaning the HDD will be overwritten with ones and zeroes once, seven or 35 times, to secure your data from being recovered, because a simple format will not really erase your data.

    Here is a thread that should help you along:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=840454

    PLUS: http://support.apple.com/kb/TA24002
     
  3. Lee Potts thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #3
    Okay thanks. I kind of have a problem though, I only did an "erase" and not the erase free space because I didn't have time to research it before I mailed it. How safe will my data be solely with an erase in disk utility?
     
  4. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030

    CylonGlitch

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Location:
    SoCal
    #4
    The odds are 99% chance you're fine. You erased it, repartitioned it to FAT32 and reformatted it? Well that kills a lot more then what most people are capable of reversing. BUT that being said, there are tools out there that can recover the data that was on there. But often require some level of expertise to use them and to get usable data from the disk. Fortunately if you had previously had it formatted for Mac that makes it even more difficult for people because it would require them understand another file structure. FAT is easy to decode, and NTFS is quite common. It won't stop anyone, just make it more difficult.

    All that being said, most people don't care about the previous data, they are just going to use the drive themselves.

    What you really need to do is a secure erase of the entire drive. One that not only erases the data, but also over writes it with not one but at least THREE different data patterns. Believe it or not, it is still possible to read a drive even if the data was over written once, thus at least three passes is the right way to do it. This type of erase takes a LOT of time, often days.

    My rule of thumb is that I NEVER sell any hard drive. I keep them around until they die and then I take a sledge hammer to it before trashing it. Sure that isn't 100% fool proof either, but it sure is damn near it.
     
  5. Lee Potts thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #5
    Okay thanks guys that is reassuring. I just dont want anything to happen and I wasn't thinking when I sold it. Unfortunately I was not aware of the clean sweep of the 3 Pass method. I just hope it will be okay with the erase from disk utility.
     
  6. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030

    CylonGlitch

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Location:
    SoCal
    #6
    You should be, most people aren't out there to snoop for information and in fact those who are, just buy drives and find that they haven't even been erased. Besides for someone to go through all that effort to get your personal information, you have to have been targeted by someone who really wants information on you.

    I wouldn't expect you to have any issues.
     
  7. Lee Potts thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #7
    Okay...that makes it sound less likely. I just dont want my passwords and photos (I guess they are on facebook and all anyways ha) out there. I wish I would have been smarter about this. Thanks for all of your guys help.
     
  8. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Location:
    Cedar City, Utah
    #8
    My hero.
     

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