One appropriate time to clean a hard drive is after a failure has occurred. If the hard drive on your computer has failed and been replaced with a new one, it may still be a good idea to clean the failed hard drive. It may seem unnecessary to remove data from a failed hard drive, but the fact is that there are many people who will be able to recover data from the drive, and if you simply put it out with the garbage there is no telling where it may end up.
Many communities have recycling programs in place for computer equipment, and if your neighborhood has such a program you may want to dispose of the failed hard drive that way. If no such program exists, you can try magnetizing the hard drive by passing a powerful magnet over it, using a special wiping software to overwrite the data with useless information or even destroying the hard drive with a hammer.
It is also important to clean a hard drive thoroughly if it is to be sold or given away. When you consider that many of us use our personal computers for such sensitive things as banking, shopping and investing, it is easy to see how a computer in the wrong hands could easily put you and your identity at risk. Even if you have total trust in the new owner of the computer, you have no way of knowing where that PC and the information it contains will eventually end up.
That is why it is so important to clean the hard drive carefully and completely. It is not enough to simply delete the files and empty the recycle bin, as the files are still out there on the computer and will be quite easy to recover for those with the skills to do so. It is important to clean the hard drive by using a quality wiping program. There are many such programs on the market, including software products by Symantec, McAfee, Computer Associates and other large manufacturers, as well as some excellent programs written by independent programmers. These cleaning programs not only erase the data; they also overwrite it with useless information, making it virtually impossible for those with malicious intent to gain access to your personal information.