I know the universe of interested parties shrinks every year as the sales of the WCI portal (née Plumtree) decline, Oracle promotes a different product, and old customers move on to new platforms. But! Some of you are still out there reading, and so thanks!
Fortunately for you all, I'm not going far. I'll continue working with the WCI portal for a long-time customer, Boeing, for whom I've consulted off and on, but mostly on, since 2004. So the blog entries will continue to sporadically pop into your RSS feeds.
I have three company laptops that I need to return. The newest one Oracle issued to me several months ago, and I'm sure it will be redeployed to another employee. The older ones, however, will likely be "decommissioned." Occasionally I read stories about crooks who buy old hard drives to recover their data and then engage in all sorts of nefarious crimes. I don't want my data open to that risk. Since I don't know exactly what Oracle's decommissioning process is, and since any company's processes may not be perfectly followed, I decided to take extra care to destroy the personal, customer, and corporate data that had been on the hard drives.
So here's what I'm doing tonight, and you probably should do something similar when you let go of your old laptops, whether you're disposing of an old personal machine or resigning from the job that had run its course:
- Copy any needed data off the old laptop (e.g. this photo from when kiddo was a newborn)
- Create a "live cd" or a bootable disk with a *nix operating system on it. I used Ubuntu (get it).
- Boot your old laptop from the CD. On my Dell laptop, I used F12 to get a one-time boot menu to select that I wanted to boot from CD rather than from the hard drive.
- Identify the partition name for your disk. I did this by going to System -> Administration -> GParted Partition Editor.
- Open a console.
- Type a command like this one at the prompt, where /dev/sda2 is my laptop partition to wipe:
sudo shred -vfz -n 1 /dev/sda2
- Wait while the machine overwrites your entire disk first with random data, then with zeros.
That's it. There's not much left to find on the drive. This is a much better approach than just reformatting the drive, because reformatting merely clears the address tables for the disk but still leaves the data intact and retrievable by Dr. Evil who makes his business doing such things. Of course, you could be more fastidious than I was. Another blog gives a more detailed review of the technical issue and even more thorough ways to knock it out.
After erasing the data, I went the extra mile to installed Ubuntu. This way anyone who turns on the computer will be able to log in and see that nothing is readily available, and they'll also find it to be a generally useful machine.
PS: Yes, I'm extraordinarily happy to move on from Oracle!