Hard Drive Destruction Methods

What is the best way to set about Hard Drive Destruction?

Computers are an integral part of life today. We use them at home, at school and at work.  We store everything that we hold dear on them such as our photos, our contact lists, our course work, our bank details and our company secrets. This information is all stored on the Hard Drive and the question is how do you protect your data when the time comes for you to change from one computer to another?

The Hard Drive can be removed from the computer and destroyed in a number of ways. The key point is to make sure that after you have finished with it the data which is stored on the magnetic Platter inside the drive is not accessible to prying eyes. 

The method of destruction that you choose may be to some extent dependant on who you are and how secret your data actually is. Your holiday snaps are somewhat less interesting to the bad guys than the medical records of A. N. Celebrity for example!

Shred? Wipe? Crush? Degauss?

Hard Drive destruction is achieved by one or more of the following ways:

Shredding –literally “slicing into small pieces”is undertaken in bulk by companies who offer this service.  You can either send them your drives or they may bring a shredder to your premises.  Obviously if you send your drives off site to be shredded you need to be sure of secure transport arrangements once the data is out of your control.  Similarly, if you need to collect up enough drives to warrant a visit from the mobile crusher you need a secure means to store the drives while you collect up enough of them to warrant the cost of a visit.

Wiping is done by the use of downloadable software. While this may be the most cost effect solution to a small user it is worth noting that it is a time consuming process as the software overwrites the drive multiple times, and it does not work on faulty drives. There may even be areas of a drive that your computer has abandoned as bad sectors which will still contain data after you have tried to wipe the drive using this method.  Wiping is therefore not considered to be a high security solution.

Crushing means that the Hard drive is subjected to physical damage usually ending up with either shattering or piercing the Platter and folding up the casing such that it is not possible to connect up the Drive and read the data. This method of Hard Drive Destruction is suitable for a wide variety of people as it offers a very flexible and relatively low cost solution.  Unlike Shredding, a table-top machine such as the Crunch 250 from VS Security Products can be placed in an organisation so that you keep control of all you drives in house, and you can destroy an individual drive in just 9 seconds, or you can collect them up in the safety of your organisation and crush them at the rate of 250 per hour.

Degaussing means subjecting the Hard drive to a high-energy magnetic field which has the effect of scrambling all the minute particles of recorded bits of data into random and completely unreadable configurations. Since, in the first instance it is the data recorded on the Platter which is the thing you are trying to destroy, using a degausser is the absolutely most secure method of Hard Drive destruction. For more information please see our Introduction to Degaussers.

Deciding which method of Hard Drive destruction is best for you depends on several factors including how sensitive your data is, how many hard drives you need to destroy, how much you can spend on a solution.

One additional aid for the most security minded is offered by VS Security Products in the form of its unique Data Destruction Auditor system. This is a program which can be linked to their Hard Drive Crusher – the Crunch 250 – and their degaussers including the DataGauss, the DataGone and the SDD Master. It will provide you with recorded and printable evidence of all the media you have destroyed. 

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