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How to Wipe Data: Keep the Confidentiality in OS X

October 15th, 2010

mac-osx-formatting.jpgThere are two sometimes overlooked ways to maintain the confidentiality of deleted files when you are using Apple’s OS X.

Secure Empty Trash

Normal Empty Trash does not wipe the files from the drive. It simply frees up the space to be used by something else when needed. The data is often easily recovered using data recovery software. To add another level of security, use Secure Empty Trash for doing away with sensitive documents and other files. This extra step could stop a nosy co-worker (or worse) from accessing your data.

To empty the trash using Secure Empty Trash, simply choose the command from the Finder menu. As with many OS X functions, there’s a shortcut. Pressing the Command key while clicking on the trash can changes Empty Trash to Secure Empty Trash. This is an easy way to access the feature without changing any preferences.

If you deal with a lot of confidential computer documents, you can choose Secure Trash Empty as the default in the Finder Preferences. Under the Finder menu choose Preferences, then select the Advanced tab, then check the box that says, “Empty Trash securely.” The trash may take a bit longer to empty, but it could be worth the wait.

Wipe The Drive (x7)

Let’s say you are finished with all the information on a flash drive and plan to toss the drive or give it to your daughter to use for school. It is a good idea to re-format the flash drive – give it a fresh start and wipe everything clean. The same holds true for a hard drive. In such a case, there are options in Disk Utility worth considering.

To format a drive in Mac, open the Utilities folder under the Go menu or in the Applications folder. Open the Disk Utility application. Make sure the drive you wish to format is plugged in and turned on. On the left hand side of Disk Utility, highlight the drive, not the partition below it. Select the Erase tab. Then select the Security Options button. This brings up a screen with the following options:

  1. Don’t Erase Data: This is the quickest, but least secure.
  2. Zero Out Data: A middle ground that provides some security.
  3. 7-Pass Erase: This provides security that meets the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 5220-22 M standard. Basically, it makes the old data extremely hard to recover.
  4. 35-Pass Erase: As the name suggests, this option erases and writes over the data 35 times. This may provide the highest level of security, but can take a long time to complete.

Make sure the rest of the formatting settings are to your liking. A drive strictly used with modern Intel Macs is generally formatted Mac OS Extended (Journaled) GUID Partition Table. Flash drives are often formatted MS-DOS (FAT) in order to be used with PCs and Macs.

Apple support: [apple.com/support/]
OSX is a trademark of Apple, Inc.

This article was supplied by Don Fulcrum from Constant Content.

Related article: Undelete Plus Clean Drive

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