I’d like to welcome the new members to this list, and provide a little background for you. Every week I send my clients (and other interested parties) a reminder to back up their data. This is an easy habit to get out of if you don’t have an automated system, and until I started this mini-newsletter, I was not making backups regularly enough myself.
To keep the reminders from getting too repetitive, I’ve started including news and suggestions about different aspects of backing up and otherwise protecting your data.
This week’s topic is Disposing of Old Data Backups.
You’re probably all aware of the national epidemic of identity theft, and you know you need to shred anything with your personal or financial information on it.
But what about those old backup CDs? I don’t know about you, but my computer contains the keys to my life—all my financial details, my passwords, even my signature, important information about my clients, and plenty of things that I wouldn’t want other people to read just because they’re personal.
So far I’ve mostly used ZIP disks for my backups and I overwrite old data rather than throwing the disks away. And ZIP disks, like floppies, can be erased or reformatted.
ZIP disks and floppies are on their way out, though, and a CD can hold a lot more information and costs a lot less. If you’re not using rewritable CDs, sooner or later you’ll end up with an accumulation of old data backups which are no longer useful to you but could still be useful to an identity
Don’t just pitch these in the trash along with all those offers from AOL and Earthlink! You need to make sure that your old CDs are unreadable before throwing them away. Of course, we’ve already talked about the way cheap CDs can self-destruct and become unreadable. If that happens, you don’t need to take any additional measures. But if you can read the information on the CD, so can someone else.
You can actually buy shredders specially designed for CDs, DVDs, and other media. These are usually built to an industrial scale with prices to match. Any large company should probably have one—in a soundproofed room.
For individuals and small companies, there are more personal-sized models from Aleratec ($49.95) and Royal ($99.99). The interesting thing about the Aleratec model is that it doesn’t chop the CD up but instead drills it full of tiny holes. I suspect this is much quieter.
If you’re not going to be destroying CDs all that frequently, or just don’t have space for a second shredder, a good strong pair of scissors should work.
And remember—if you need any help creating a good backup system for yourself, just ask!