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How to manage the end of financial year IT upgrade

Were you one of those businesses that decided to upgrade your IT hardware before the end of the old financial year?

In the process of upgrading phones, tablets, laptops and desktops, however, it’s important to make sure you don’t give your data away along with the old hardware.

These days most companies realise that before passing any equipment on, they should first ensure that all data is erased from the device. According to a recent European survey by Kroll Ontrack, one of the most popular methods of achieving this is to format the drive.

The survey looked at how second hand device dealers approach the issue of data management. Almost all the dealers involved know that the hard disk and solid-state drives should be wiped clean and around 80 per cent of participants say they rely on formatting. Based on our experience locally, the numbers would be similar here in Australia. Formatting is a cheap and relatively quick solution. Sadly, what the dealers don’t realise is they are wasting their time. Even after formatting, data can be retrieved from a drive.

With smartphones, the situation is somewhat different. Frequently upgraded and just as frequently passed on to family, friends or dealers, the smartphone is much easier to wipe. In most models currently on the market, guaranteed erasure can be achieved by restoring the phone to its factory settings. In the European survey, this is the approach taken by two thirds of dealers.

Unfortunately, in a bid to retain the applications already loaded on the phone, up to one fifth of dealers ignore the factory settings option and choose to clear data manually. This is like deleting documents one by one from a hard drive. It doesn’t work. The data is still there, available for retrieval should anyone wish to try.

The most worrying survey findings however are these: one in three respondents did not realise how important it is to delete data and three per cent didn’t think it mattered at all.

As you look for ways to pass on or sell your old devices, think about the data they contain. Then decide whether you really want someone else to see your calendar, your photos, your contacts, documents and more. Think about the fact that the same process is likely to be happening right across the business, then ask yourself: How much information about your business is about to walk the door?

You might decide it’s time to take a more professional and permanent approach to erasure by deploying a data wiping utility.

About the Author

Adrian Briscoe is the General Manager APAC, Kroll Ontrack