There is an important urge to protect the files in Hard Disks and other portable media from third parties. The Hard Disk may contain vital data related to Business or other services which are very critical and hence protecting the data from theft is of paramount importance.
Securing Deleted Data
If an unwanted data is deleted permanently by holding shift while deleting, there is a good probability of recovering the files again. Hence, user should be aware of securing even the deleted data and should make sure that the deletion has happened irreversibly. There are free and more sophisticated paid software which recovers the deleted data. Hence to delete a file permanently it has to be shredded in the same way a printer copy is shredded using shredder for security purposes. The shredder software rewrites the file location with multiple random chunks of data which makes any powerful file recovery software useless. These are some of the few secure delete software available for download for free. File shredder can be downloaded for free here.
Hard Disk Encryption
In order to secure the files present in the PC, a log on password is merely helpful as the entire hard disk can be removed and connected to other computer in slave mode, just like a pen drive. The user will still get full access to it.
One option is to use of encryption software to encrypt entire files. There are free software which encrypts entire hard disk. Most of the corporate use the encryption facility to secure their data against accidental loss. For example, when the laptop is lost or stolen, the encryption makes sure that the files will not land on third party hands. Encryption is like a password for all the files individually. User need to enter encryption password only once after login. The OS will take care of the rest. Here, even if the encrypted hard disk is connected to other PC, no data can be recovered as without the secret password, the files will be rendered useless. Hence, this is the most secure way of managing Hard disk. The thief can still wipe all the data and use hard disk for his purpose. However, the data was still secured.
Hard Disk Password Feature
Hard disk password feature is naive but is still in use which comes up as soon as BIOS loads. It will not allow the OS to boot unless a password is entered. The password can be set in the BIOS menu which can be accessed by pressing the DEL button on keyboard repeatedly during power on. This is a good deterrent for Data thieves but is not very secure. The hard disk password can be easily tampered, removed or disabled to gain access to data using little sophisticated tools.
To summarize, encryption is the best solution to secure the data followed by Hard Disk password. The trustworthiness of the software should also be verified as if they are not up to date with the evolving OS there will be dependency. Always keep backup of important documents and keep antivirus and anti-spyware software up to date.