Privacy and Information Security | University of Illinois

Disk Scrubbing

Disk scrubbing is a process in which a hard drive is overwritten with useless data (typically a single number) before the hard drive is disposed of. State Law requires that University-owned hard drives and similar devices be scrubbed of data before disposal. To protect personal information privately owned computers and other devices that store data should be wiped or destroyed as well.

This document explains the basics of disk scrubbing and provides links to current university policies and frequently asked questions.

Why scrub your disks?

In short, you should scrub your disks before disposal to prevent unauthorized data recovery. Obviously Social Security Numbers or other personal information should be thoroughly removed before a computer is scrapped, but it is important for protecting individual privacy to remove any data before sending drives or computers to University Surplus.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, and personal information is worth money to the right people. Social Security Numbers, names and addresses, and financial information can all be used to make purchases in your name and can easily be recovered from discarded hard drives. 

More information

Disk Scrubbing FAQ - Contains answers to frequently asked questions.

OBFS Policy Manual Disposal of State-Owned Equipment
OBFS Policy Manual Elimination of Data

The new policy on the Disposal of Digital Media is published in the Campus Administrative Manual.