08 January 2009
The only way to stop fraudsters stealing information from old computer hard drives is by destroying them completely, a study has found. Computing magazine Which? recovered 22,000 "deleted" files from eight computers purchased on eBay. Criminals source old computers from internet auction sites or in rubbish tips, to find users' valuable details.
via BBC NEWS | Technology | Hard drive destruction 'crucial'.

Actually you don't quite need to go to that extreme, and I'm sure a  very determined tech thief could piece together the digital media from the smashed hard-drive.  No, more secure (and easier!) is to just run one of the many shredding utilities you can download out there - preferably one where you can specify to overwrite the original data with a given number of garbage writes (I remember 23 being the number of times you should go over the original data - though that was some time ago), and then you can go ahead and sell your computer/hard-drive on ebay.

Perhaps the best solution though is just to have your home folder encrypted (or profile directory in windows) .   Or even setup an entire volume to be encrypted.  You never know when you're going to leave your laptop on the train or when someone is going to steal it from under your nose at Starbucks.  You also never know when someone is going to break into your house and walk away with your desktop tower.  Sure your home insurance will cover the equipment, but it won't cover the cost of re-securing your identity.

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