Lenovo has launched software to comprehensively delete data on PC hard drives, after surveys revealed a widespread failure to remove sensitive data from hard drives on PCs slated for disposal.

With the now-in-force WEEE directive, PC disposal and recycling will be more organised. A Lenovo-sponsored survey suggests that up to 30 percent of discarded PCs may contain sensitive data. An earlier BT-sponsored report reached much the same conclusion.

Reports of sensitive data being left on old PCs are set to persist as companies continue to expose themselves to the potential risks of data getting into the wrong hands. Many companies erroneously think that formatting a hard disk removes and destroys its data. In fact this data, which can be highly confidential, can still be retrieved from these drives. Systematically writing meaningless bit patterns to every disk block is a more effective way to actually remove such data.

Lenovo supplies a software product to do this. Called Secure Data Disposal, by using it customers can be confident that all data will be removed from a hard drive before it is redeployed or disposed. Lenovo is encouraging all its customers to use the tool to minimise their exposure to exposure of sensitive data.

Secure Data Disposal is available for download free on all Lenovo notebooks and desktop PCs and can easily be installed by users or network managers.

Chris Wells, Lenovo's VP for UK and Ireland, said: "It is essential for organisations to consider secure data disposal when refreshing end-of-life computers in order to avoid becoming susceptible to potentially immeasurable business risk."