Another Wipe Your Hard Drive Parable

To tell this story, I need to point out that, when I was a bachelor, I sometimes went to various web sites to satisfy my more elicit and transient urges. Probably nuff said, unless any of our sexy single female readers want to email me requesting a more vivid description.

One day, happily clicking through that day’s menu, I suddenly discovered myself in possession of a big rubbery one when I found myself at a web site featuring the erotic adventures of a girl I had just started to date. Worse yet, although she was currently incarnated in an mpeg performing filthy acts that would make the mind absolutely boggle, she had put my advances off at every turn!

Calling her up, it turned out that she had no idea about it, although she admitted to having let her ex film their passion on occasion. When she traced it back to him, it turned out that he had stored all these mpegs in a Kazaa-shared “My Documents” folder.

Sadly, she refused to see me after that… all the more frustrating since I now knew the full scope of her self-evidently amazing talents.

My own personal anecdote out of the way, a reader follow-up to our story about the ‘destroyed’ Best Buy hard drive that founds its way, data intact, into the hands of a Chicago flea market shopper, illustrating the importance of always wiping your hard drive before you hand it over to someone else!

was reminded of this story after reading the Best Buy / hard drive / flea-market item.

A friend of mine, a cute female friend of mine, was having video card issues on her computer. She asked me to take a look and “while you’re at it, see if I have any spyware & stuff.”

Being the gracious geek that I am, I did as she asked. (Turned out there was nothing wrong with the video card or drivers; she had somehow broken 2 pins on the VGA monitor cable and needed a replacement.) In the process of scanning for adware/spyware, I noticed that she had every file sharing app in the known universe running simultaneously on her system. Some I hadn’t ever heard of!

I called her and informed her of the inherent risks in this behavior. She said she didn’t even use those filesharing things anymore, but didn’t realize they were still running. She asked me to scan the shared folders for any virus-laden files. Dutifully, I did so, and found a few questionable items, noted their location and proceded to attempt deletion.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

By default, if a folder has an abundance of image files (JPG, GIF, etc.) in it, Windows XP displays that folder in “thumbnail” view when you open it so you can see all the graphics at once. Other files are shown as icons, usually with some indication as to the file type.

When I opened the folder containing the viruses and spyware-laden files, I was presented with this “thumbnail” view because, unbeknownst to me, the folder contained a lot of graphics.

All of the graphics, about 3 gb, were digital pictures of my friend in various states of undress. The files were named “bored01, bored02, etc.” and “naked01″ or “sillyme01″. Other files included a few “punk wock” (Blink 182, Good Charlotte) MP3s and videos.

There were TONS of nudie pics though, all being shared with the world through various p2p file sharing apps!

The nasty so-n-so in me wanted to just leave them as they were, or perhaps even archive a few for um…posterity. But the (married) gentleman in me took over and I called my friend and informed her of this foolishness. She was embarrassed at first, but kinda laughed about it. Then it sunk in that every tom, dick, n’ harry out there probably has her pictures. She was not happy.

I told her I would either delete them for her (along with the P2P software), or remove the software and let her take care of the pics. She opted for the latter.

When I returned the computer to her, I warned her to make sure she carefully wiped the drive if she ever got rid of the computer or had to have the hard drive serviced.

This was about 6 months ago. She recently informed me that she was getting a new computer, but wanted to know if I’d wipe the drive for her before she got rid of the old one. I told her I’d get a drive-nuke floppy from work (I work for state government) and do a multi-pass drive rewrite so her naughty bits don’t get passed on to the next guy.

Word, Paul D.

Comments

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  1. Paul D says:

    The drive wiper in question is Darik’s Boot And Nuke (DBAN), available here.

    Where I work, we do 32 passes. It takes a while, but it’s worth the time knowing that none but the world’s foremost retrieval experts will be able to get your files back.

  2. Scott says:

    Some people need to learn the hard way…

    If Paul D is reading, which “drive-nuke floppy” do you use? I, too, work for state government, and I’ve been using DBAN…

  3. trixare4kids says:

    I feel bad for those women.

    Every boyfriend I have ever had has wanted to take pictures or videos “just for us” (read: just for him). Thank god I knew better. There’s way too much stupidity that happens like in the case of sharing the wrong files not to mention “angry ex boyfriend” sites.

    The answer has always been a resounding: hell no and don’t ask again.

    There’s 0% chance the pictures or videos are going to show up for the entire world to ogle at if you don’t take them in the first place.

  4. OkiMike says:

    I need to start offering my disk-inspecting services to my single female friends!

    Forget the FBI (female body inspector) shirts, I need a FDI (female’s disk inspector) shirt!

  5. Josh Cohen says:

    There’s only one sure way to completely wipe a disk drive before you get rid of your computer: a sledgehammer.

  6. OkiMike says:

    Actually, a strong set of magnets and a furnace fire would be better…