Does Restoring a Computer to the Factory Settings Wipe the Memory?
For most people, the whole idea behind a factory rest is to get a computer that works like it did when new. As far as software is concerned, the computer is exactly the way it was on the day it was purchased. The story might be a little different for the hardware. Of course, if the hardware works just fine the computer will too, but the hardware is likely to have collected a few scratches and dent along the way since the first day of use.
Restoring a computer to the factory settings will make it look like you’ve wiped the memory. However, the data does sit in the background until it is overwritten by new data.
Factory Reset a Computer
When you factory reset a computer, you’re not going to be able to access any of the programs and files that were on it before the reset. For most purposes, you can assume that you have deleted everything on the computer, and that’s okay for most people. However, that information still lives on your hard drive and will stay there until it has either been overwritten by new information or completely destroyed. An expert could access it if they tried hard enough.
The idea of clearing your data using a factory reset isn’t such a far-fetched idea. In fact, phone companies do that with refurbished phones. It certainly does seem appealing to be able to be done with everything by clicking a simple button.
Considering a Factory Reset
However, the truth is that it simply is not that simple. In some cases, a factory reset can actually be a good thing. However, there are certain drawbacks you should consider as you deliberate whether to use this method or not. In fact, there are lots of situations where it may actually be a bad idea to do a factory reset, rather than a good one. Most of the time, a factory reset gives you the impression that your data is secure while actually putting it in a compromising position.
The important question here is what the implications of a factory reset are for your security. In fact, before we get to that question, we need to know what a factory reset is in the first place. It’s important to know what caveats exist for this type of data erasure and find out which situations make it appropriate. Only when we know all of the risks involved can we begin to take the steps to mitigate those risks.
A Closer Look at the Factory Reset
A factory reset is simply a built-in feature that comes with your device, whether it’s a computer, phone, or other, uses built-in software to erase the information that exists on the internal storage of the computer or other device. The reason it’s called a factory reset is that it puts back the device in the state it was when it first left the factory. It restores the computer to factory settings.
All the settings on the computer will be reset to their default settings, and all the applications that weren’t originally on the computer when it left the factory will be deleted, along with all the information they contained. The original applications that were there will be put back to their original state, and all subsequent data stored by them for the user will be deleted.
Factory resets help to fix large application errors or issues with the operating system. They can even help re-establish a strong connection between the hardware and BIOS, making the computer perform as fast and stably as it did when it left the factory.
Main Benefit of a Factory Reset: It’s Easy
Now that we know what a factory reset is, what are its benefits?
A factory reset is easy. This is the most obvious benefit that comes with this method of data erasure. All you have to do is click on a button, and everything goes away. When you have compliance considerations and need convenience, that’s something that just about anyone can do. Imagine an erasure policy at a company where all that the employee needs to do is select an option in one step. They hover their mouse cursor over a button, click, and everything’s done. It’s hard to imagine anyone messing that up.
Performing Factory Reset Remotely
Another benefit of this method is that you can perform a factory reset remotely. If your computer network is robust enough, and it definitely should be if you take your IT security seriously, you should have an enterprise layer to your network that allows for remote wiping. You should be able to trigger that wiping whenever policy calls for it, in which case it can even be automated, or when you need to do it directly from anywhere within the network and even sometimes from without.
This is important, especially when devices get lost. In the special case of phones, it’s even more important. Say you allow your employees to bring in their own phones and use them for work related stuff. You can set a policy for those employees who have sensitive company data on their phones to allow for remote factory resets. In that case, if the phone is lost or stolen, a factory rest ensures the data in it cannot be stolen.
Factory resets are pretty important. In a device without a factory reset, there are many steps to be followed when troubleshooting how to manage the data. This can be quite a difficult process. However, with a factory reset, you just need to back up your data and then erase it.
What Are the Limitations of a Factory Reset?
Factory resets aren’t perfect. They don’t delete everything on the computer. The data will still exist on the hard drive. Such is the nature of hard drives that this type of erasure doesn’t mean getting rid of the data written to them, it just means the data can no longer be accessed by your system. As you begin to use th_e factory reset computer_ and add new data to storage, it will be written over the old data. Eventually, if you use the entire storage, all of the old data will be overwritten and will cease to exist.
Factory resets, because of their simplicity, create a false sense of security. You will feel like your data is securely deleted while it’s really still all there. If you really want to create high standards of security for your company and your information really is that important, it may help to get special software to perform complete data erasure, or use methods like degaussing (destroying the magnetic field on the hard disk completely to destroy all of its data) to render hard drives completely useless.
Consider Hiring an Expert
In case you have a burning need to permanently get rid of the data on your computer, such as when you’re selling it, you can consider hiring an expert to do it. There are also various programs available that were designed to wipe away the memory completely. This is known as secure wiping and meets government sanitation standards. However, this is only for the most sensitive of data or the most extreme of situations. For most intents and purposes, a factory reset is enough.