If you work a job behind a computer, then your work computer has likely stored a large amount of data on you. Your employer may not delete that data when you leave. This means your data could be accessible until the company decides to replace the compute. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to delete your data from a previous employer’s computer when leaving a job—as long as there is no employment contract forbidding it.
Before begining to delete your data two things should be kept in mind regarding privacy through your employer. First, your company likely has access to all of the emails you have sent through a company email. Second, your computer (if it provided by the company) itself may be monitored by your company and it can likely be locked down at any time. Keep these facts in mind while deleting your data.
Take what you need
The first step is to take everything you need from the computer and put it on a virtual drive or usb drive. Make sure you only take documents you own. Anything privileged or confidential should not be taken and can lead to some major trouble.
Steps to delete your data
Delete locally stored personal files Some common places to look are the downloads and documents folders. Delete emails (if allowed through company) This depends on the email provider. There is usually an option to “select all” which could expediate the process Delete internet history Browsers almost always have the option of deleting your browsing history. The process depends on the browser but should be straightforward. Delete any saved profiles on your internet browser There are plenty of apps, browsers, etc. that require a profile to be created in order to use the product. These services store data and can be deleted. Empty your recycling bin Don’t forget this part, or all the documents you deleted could be restored! Delete your computer profile This step may require admin access and will likely be done when you leave. If not, you could do it yourself. The process is different depending on whether your company uses Windows or Apple. Request your employer delete your data It is likely a good idea to simply ask that your previous employer delete your data. Although there is no requirement that they comply in the U.S., some employers will still comply. In the European Union the right to be deleted is protected and recognized under the right to be forgotten. In the U.S. the right to be forgotten is not recognized. If you want the State or Federal government to recognize and protect this right, please let your legislators know.