Old computer, how to keep your data safe

(WFLA) – Mit Patel has the ultimate grass roots success story. He knows a thing or two about computer data.

And, it all started as a troubled kid in junior high.

Mit confesses he gave his parents some problems when he was younger. “They saw me going down the wrong road, and they put a stop it. I was getting in with the wrong crowd. Gangs were big back then. When my parents bought me a computer, everything changed.”

The now-wildly successful, young businessman was hooked instantly.

He loved technology, and he was good at it.

He began spending time off the streets and on his computer. “Once they bought it, they weren’t going to fix it if something went wrong, so I had to do that myself. It taught me a lot. Pretty soon, I was known as they ‘computer guy’ to my friends. I started fixing everyone’s computers.”

“I knew I could make some money at it. So, I started charging them. I even got a beeper,” Mit laughed. “I was in high school, and I would check numbers between classes. People wanted to know if their computer was fixed.”

Mit is as hometown as you can get. After attending Brandon High School, he went on to the University of South Florida, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. He was thrilled to be in Tampa Bay, but a little nervous about what the future held.

“I knew I was good at computers, and I knew I could fix them. So, I decided to start a business,” Mit told 8 on your Side. “That’s how it started back in 1997.”

Fast forward 18 years later, and Mit’s name can be seen all over Tampa Bay. In fact, he named his business-mascot dog, appropriately, Lucky. “I am so happy, things have worked out so well,” he remarked.

He has built a career out of solving computer problems via his well-known local businesses, Mit Computers. “We opened five stores, and I even have my dad working here. Computers are an addiction. People are really worried about their data.”

Mit admits that most people when they upgrade their own computer or even donate, that they don’t do a hard re-format

“You think your files are gone, and they’re really not. Most people don’t wipe their computers,” he told us. “When someone deletes something, you think it’s deleted, it’s gone, like when you throw the trash away, you don’t know where it goes, you just know it’s gone.”

He put out an ominous warning to everyone who owns a computer.

“If they knew to the level of what could be recovered, it could be a real eye opener to most people!”

So, 8 on your side decided to put our data destruction to the test to see what it takes to keep your secrets truly safe. We went to Mit and his team to see what it takes to retrieve data.

You think you’ve wiped your computer clean. But, your old tax returns, your photographs, even your credit card information could still be on there. Your hard drive holds all your secrets. It has to really be destroyed to clean it completely.

”Knowledge is power, and you’ve got everything you need to know at your fingertips,” Mit said. “That’s a lot of power to a lot of people.”

And, Mit can work magic on a motherboard.

“They hit the delete button, it goes into the trash and they don’t see it, so it’s gone. That’s all they think about it after that.”

We took three WFLA computers and loaded a photo into the system labeled, Top Secret File. The photo is a picture with Mit and his team at work. We didn’t tell the team where it was, we just told them they had to find it.

Then, we had some fun.

First stop was the top of the parking garage at News Channel 8. We dropped a computer from the third floor. Next, we enlisted the help of our anchor team – Keith Cate, Gayle Sierens, Jen Leigh and Steve Jerve.

We gave the anchors a bat and stood back as one by one they each took a swing, similar to the popular movie, “Office Space.”

Jen laughed and asked, “Can we do this every week?”

Not a bad stress relief.

Then, we took one of computers for a dip off Davis Island into Tampa Bay. We dunked it three times.

All three computers were taken back to Mit Computers and less than 48 hours later, we had our results. Can you guess which one survived? Turns out, the anchors had great aim. It was Keith Cate’s bat that banged up our hard drive pretty good. Then, the drop off the building also did damage.

The dunk in the bay was the only survivor. The secret file was found!

The moral to the story here? A bat or a building is your best bet when destroying data. Keep that in mind when you are selling or donating a computer. Information in your hard drive can live up to ten years, according to Mit.

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