The File-by-File Method
1. INDIVIDUAL FILES ELIMINATED, SOFTWARE REMAINS INTACT
- To completely destroy a file, use a data-shredding program such as Digital File Shredder from StompSoft ($30). It takes a conventional "erase" a step further by actually writing over the file.
2. ENTIRE DRIVE IS PERMANENTLY ERASED, BUT STILL USABLE
- Completely reformatting your drive doesn't eliminate data.
- Many of the best data-erasing programs come from the same companies that produce data-recovery software. DataEraser ($30), from Ontrack, completely overwrites the drive.
3. DATA IS GONE, HARD DRIVE IS TOAST
- Drilling four holes through the platters will ensure that they never spin properly again.
- Better yet, unscrew and remove the top lid of the drive, and go at the platters with a sander or angle grinder. Scuff the surface of the platters until all the shine is gone.