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Erasing, Degaussing, and Destroying Hard Drives, Which Method is Best?

Erasing, Degaussing, and Destroying Hard Drives, Which Method is Best?

Your hard drive is a powerhouse of information. As we move towards a more digital society, computers are used to do and store more, which means that our devices are fountains of sensitive information. Security should always remain a top priority, specifically when it comes to removing and destroying hard drives and other old information.

Here are various methods employed for hard drive destruction:

Erasing Hard Drives

Before recycling a hard drive, you should erase its contents. If you don’t erase the hard drive, you risk exposing sensitive personal data that you previously deleted – data like social security numbers, tax returns, account numbers, and passwords. The simplest way to completely wipe a hard drive is to use free data destruction software, sometimes called hard drive eraser software or disk wipe software.

The only downside to this method is user error. If you’re not familiar with how to use these kinds of tools, employing software is not recommended.

Degaussing Hard Drives

The data on your hard drive is stored magnetically. The reason why magnetism is used in computer storage is because it goes on storing information even when the power is switched off. Objects that are magnetized will remain that way until you demagnetize, or degauss it.

Degaussing is achieved by passing the magnetic media through a powerful magnetic field to rearrange the polarity of the particles, thus completely removing any likeness of the previously recorded data. It renders any and all previous data unrecoverable. A degausser is good if you want to completely erase all audio, video and data signals from the magnetic storage. However, degaussing is not entirely fool-proof.  It can only be used on magnetic media, and there is no way to guarantee that a particular degaussing machine is strong enough to destroy all the data on every hard drive.  Also, degaussing does not provide reporting of the erasure process which is needed to prove regulatory compliance.

Total Hard Drive Destruction

Most IT professionals will tell you that degaussing or wiping hard drives is no longer an acceptable method for complete, secure destruction of stored data. The best and most secure method of rendering hard drive information completely unusable is to completely destroy it.

Legal Shred offers hard drive destruction services through the use of our shredders; this method works similarly to how we destroy paper documents, except it is the hard drive that is being shredded into unusable pieces. Data is impossible to retrieve once it has been pulverized.

The benefit of hiring an on-site service like Legal Shred for your hard drive destruction needs is that your hard drive will be destroyed on your property, in your presence, and you will receive a certificate of destruction upon completion. Hard drive shredding is the only true way to achieve peace of mind when disposing of an old computer.

For more information on hard drive destruction and other routine services, visit our services page.

Hard Drive Destruction