While preppers and survivalists are definitely concerned with digital OPSEC and some folks are worried about privacy or identity-theft in this age of digital data and information... few people actively take appropriate steps to protect themselves.
We recently discarded two older computers. One was a mini-tower while the other was a laptop. Before they went out to the road for trash pick-up, the gals and I removed the hard-drives. Now I know there there are many utilities that can perform a Department of Defense (DOD) approved data wipe to "clean" the digital information from the hard-drives... but out here in the country, we have a simple utility that works just as well and is a lot more fun.
First, we make sure our utility is properly configured to permanently delete the data from the hard-drive. An approximately half-inch group, three-quarters of an inch low at fifty yards from the prone position seems like a good configuration. Nothing a little Kentucky windage won't correct on a .223 utility originally configured at a hundred yards.
Since this utility for permanently deleting data isn't approved by the manufacturer, the gals and I figure that we're probably going to void the warranty... but then again, I think the warranty already expired a while back.
After running the utility for a few minutes, the digital data on the hard-drive has been rendered permanently unrecoverable. In this case, our utility was a Ruger MKII Stainless Steel All-Weather bolt-action rifle in .223 Remington loaded with Federal V-Shok .223 cartridges with 40-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips which work really well with with the one-in-twelve twist-rate. In addition to data on hard-drives, it also seems to permanently delete groundhogs.
So, before you just throw away that old computer... take out the hard-drive, stop on by, and we'll be glad to help you with permanently deleting personal data...