If you’re getting rid of your old hard drives (HDDs) or solid state drives (SSDs) then you will want to make sure all the data on them has been securely deleted before you throw them away. You don’t want any enterprising individuals to get hold of your personal information or anything they could use to cause you trouble.

We’re going to show you had to safely wipe the data from your old storage devices. If you're buying yourself a new drive make sure you take a look at our recommendations.

How to wipe your data from a HDD

There are three main ways to remove all the data from your HHD. Use software, use hardware, or use a hammer and nail.

The software method takes the most time and won’t work on a defective drive, but it is free and effective.

Head on over to dban.org and download the free open-source data wiping software found here. The instructions will guide you through the process, it’s nice and simple to use. Do be VERY careful and make sure you are wiping the correct drive, if you wipe the wrong one you’re going to be in for a bad time as you won’t be able to get that data back.

The hardware solution is very effective, much easier to use and doesn’t require a computer to do – but it is rather expensive as you’ll need to buy a dedicated tool for the job. I doubt this is going to be a viable option for most people, unless you’re planning on wiping a lot of drives very often. A product such as Drive eRazer Ultra would be perfect but it’s got a large up front cost.

The hammer and nail method is for those who really want to be sure and want the physical proof of their work. Make sure you’re taking the appropriate safety precautions before doing anything, and wear the appropriate safety equipment too.

Take a hammer and nail, place the drive flat on the surface (ideally wood). Place the nail in the centre of the drive and then move it half an inch to the right. Hammer the nail through the drive (it will be easier than you might think). If you want to be extra secure you can put two more nails through the drive at the top left and right corners about an inch in from the very edge of the drive. This will make sure the plates inside are well and truly mangled.

How to securely wipe all the data on an SSD

Solid state drives (SSDs) are a little more complicated when it comes to wiping data because of the way the data is stored.

The safest way to go about it is to find your way to your SSD manufactures website and download their specific SSD utility programs, which you will find in the downloads and utilities sections on their website.

You can use an encryption program to encrypt the drive with an impossibly complex passphrase. While nothing is unhackable, I don’t think someone is going to want to spend the time hacking through a twenty word pass phrase to get access to your cat pictures/memes.

You can also fall back onto the smashing option here too. Get your trusty hammer out, remove the cover from your SSD and go to town (once again, being very careful, doing it in an appropriate place, using safety equipment). There will be several large chips on the inside of your SSD, so aside from the blunt force of hammer strikes, you can drive a nail through them if you want to be extra careful.