University of California, Riverside


UCR Policy & Best Practices

UCR Policy

The University of California, Riverside requires all equipment be sanitized before disposal (e.g. end-of-life, hardware failure) or re-purposing. The "best practices" below include recommendations to ensure secure disposal of data for personal computers, laptop computers, computer servers, and other devices such as external, zip, and USB drives.

Best Practices

Data sanitization, the act of making data on electronic devices unreadable by destruction of the device, or scrubbing the storage unit, is a necessary step in protecting your passwords or if you're a data custodian protecting data such as social security numbers, drivers licenses and credit card information. This final step ensures data isn't inadvertently disclosed and is as important as protecting data while at rest or during transit. Following is a brief explanation of how data can be compromised even if you followed best practices in deleting passwords from the favorite web browser or deleted the file and description of various methods that can be used to decommission storage devices.


Once a file is deleted it is gone - right? Not really. Most operating systems, unless specifically setup to over-write data with random patterns as it is deleted, simply removes the reference to the file location on the disk. Software can be used to recover the disk byte by byte, a new directory of resurrected files produced and the data once deleted is now readable. Even if the data is over-written, there may still be areas on the disks that are marked as "bad block/bad sector" which will prevent the bios or operating system access to over-write the area, but may still be recoverable. Temporary files such as print spooler files, browser cache files, files for "helper" applications, and recycle bin files can also contain sensitive data which most users expect the operating system to delete automatically. This is not always the case, potentially exposing data.

Physical and electronic standards for other mass-storage devices cause most disks to be ubiquitous in nature. The dramatic increase in storage capacity, frequently replaces working disks with higher densities making those working disks candidates for repurpose on the secondary market. This also could inadvertently make data available you thought was successfully erased/destroyed when recycling equipment.

Read about methods of data sanitization...

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Computing & Communications
Computing & Communications Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-4741
Fax: (951) 827-4541