(WNBC) -- It can be an easy task for identity thieves to get private information from your computer if you don't properly delete those files.
Simply emptying your desktop trash folder doesn't do it.
So how can you protect yourself?
One man took a sledge hammer to his hard drive to make sure it was destroyed, but you don't have to go that far.
Helen Daigle and her husband Alan are dumping 45 years' worth of technology.
We all have them, old computers, sitting around that haven't been used in years, but filled with personal data you wouldn't want the rest of the world to see.
The question is how to destroy those clunkers without giving up your life's details.
"You can imagine a computer disk being a book. It has a title and a table of contents and the contents. Well deleting the files simply erases the entry in the table of contents. The information is actually there. All you need to do is simply look for it," said Alex Shvartsman computer science professor.
To really wipe your data out, our engineers recommend using 'true crypt', a free reliable program you can download from the internet to fully clear out your hard drive.
No matter how you decide to wipe your personal data from your electronics, consider recycling it when you want to discard it.