Prior to disposing of your old PC, laptop or PDA, make sure you wipe your hard drive clean.
Don't just delete everything from it because, according to PC World, "Deleting just the sensitive files may not protect you fully. Unidentified copies of those files could exist in ‘unused' parts of your hard drive, or in your swap file, among other possible locations. It's a good idea to wipe these areas of your drive as well - or go the surefire route and wipe your entire hard drive."
In the August 21, 2006 issue of Information Week, it said "researchers purchased used computers at auctions or computer fairs in Australia, Germany, North America and the United Kingdom. When they examined the hard drives in those computers, they found a surprising amount of sensitive data still intact, including payroll information, IP addresses, cell phone numbers and bank and credit card information."
There are several free programs (or with trial versions) you can download to adequately do the job.
- Hard Disk Scrubber 2
- BC Wipe
And I'm sure there are many others; just do a Google search for "wipe hard drive clean" and you'll find one to fit your needs as well as your pocketbook.