Never Throw Away a USB Flash Drive Before Erasing All Data from It


Do you have an old USB flash drive that you want to give away, sell or throw away? Before you do anything with it, you should make sure to securely erase all data from it. Surveys show that most people leave recoverable data on USB sticks they get rid of, which means that they are practically inviting unsolicited access to their files.

Why You Should Shred Files Using a File Shredder

You’ll be surprised when you hear what sort of files can be recovered from old USB thumb drives using free file recovery software. Old photos including pictures of people’s children and compromising less than modest shots, ID scans and photos, tax statements, medical data, receipts and more. Just think of what could happen if all this information fell into the wrong hands! Criminals only need your name and address to steal your identity. And your name, address, and photos of your children could potentially lead to disasters like your child being kidnapped and harmed. All because you didn’t properly erase data from an old USB stick.

Why Hitting the Delete Button Doesn’t Help

Hitting the Delete button, using Shift+Delete to bypass the Recycle Bin, and even quick-formatting the drive doesn’t actually remove any files. All these procedures do is mark the space as available, waiting for new files to be added to it. But if the deleted files aren’t actually completely overwritten with new data, the files can easily be recovered. The bad news is that even full formatting doesn’t really work for USB drives because of the way they work. That’s why you should use a file shredder to overwrite deleted files and prevent their recovery.

How to Properly Erase Data from USB Drives

The only secure way to prevent data recovery from USB drives is to overwrite every single byte of space with random data in at least three passes. You can do that with a professional data-wiping program like Easy File Shredder. With an app like that, you’ll have lots of choices on how to erase confidential files and protect yourself. If you know that the content on your USB drive doesn’t contain any identifiable data, then clean-wiping the drive in one or three passes should be enough. But if there were bank statements and other files with your name, ID number, and address, then go for a more advanced shredding method like the US Military shredding algorithms. Only then it will be safe to sell your USB thumb drive on eBay, give it away, or dump it in the bin.