A Practical Guide to Hard Drive Destruction

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Hard Drive Destruction

Destruction seems to be an enjoyable activity when done in a purposeful manner. Destroying things such as demolition day on a home renovation or monster truck rallies can be both rewarding and entertaining. The best part is that they won’t come back to haunt you in the future. To the contrary, destroying old computer equipment, if not done properly, can become a nightmare for all involved. Unbeknownst to many, a used computer’s hard drive contains old e-mail messages; credit-card, bank-account, and Social-Security numbers; and plenty of other personal information even after it’s “deleted”.crushed hard drive

In order to ensure data security, a proven destruction technology that is safe, easy to use, and, most importantly, effective is needed. Data-recovery technology constantly progresses day by day. There are many techniques used by the U.S. National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) that are not top secret, but still allow the recovery of information from seriously damaged hard drives.  The U.S. government is so fearful with the loss or theft of data that the NSA has implemented procedures that warrant hard drives to be demagnetized and burned or otherwise physically damaged prior to disposal. Many other countries have similar guidelines.

Aside from governments securing state secrets, every person and enterprise has old hard drives that should eventually be destroyed.  And don’t think that just because you aren’t a government agency or contractor you don’t need to be vigilant about hard-drive disposal.  There are real risks of information (financial and tax records, Internet purchases, etc.)  falling into nefarious hands, not to mention there is information your competitors would love to see, such as price lists, sales figures, customer data, engineering data, memos drafted in preparation for bidding, e-mails from the president to his mistress, etc.  Aside from damage to one’s reputation, there is the possibility of a lawsuit from an employee, customer, patient, or other individual who claims he or she was harmed by the release of his/her private information.

Although providers in the health care industry, financial institutions, and government/military entities are subject to higher standards of confidentiality, every business has employee records and proprietary information. As little as one hard drive from one computer can contain hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents.  When a file is “deleted” from a computer, the information essentially remains on the hard drive. The same goes for “deleted” e-mail messages and all online search history. Reformatting to original settings or overwriting the hard drive may not be enough to prevent sensitive data from being recovered using the right techniques and equipment.

Methods to the Destructive Madness

Whether a hard drive is really destroyed sufficiently to avoid the salvaging of confidential information is debatable.  Here is a list of some of the safer options for complete data destruction:


“Disk-wiping” software is used to change the stored data into a pattern of pointless characters.


Degaussing is merely the elimination of a magnetic field.  There are two approaches to degaussing.  The first technique passes hard drives through the magnetic fields of powerful, fixed, rare-earth magnets, permanently erasing the data.  The second method uses a powerful electromechanical pulse that instantly produces a powerful magnetic field to permanently erase data from the hard drives.

hard drive degausser


This method of destruction destroys drives by exposing them to extreme compression from a pointed steel punch.  These work well for a light volume of drives as they are relatively inexpensive and available in manual or powered set ups. However, unlike degaussing, the data located in the distorted hard drive is still complete, but it is nearly impossible to retrieve.automatic sledgehammer


Like the word says, shredders literally rip and tear hard drives to pieces.  This method is very similar to a commonplace paper shredder. Although, hard drive shredders are much stronger and capable of destroying several types and sizes of drives, with the largest destroying up to 2,500 hard drives per hour.

Hard Drive Shredding Services

 The Outsourcing Option

Some businesses may have the confidence to invest in hard drive destruction equipment, knowing confidential information and sensitive data will never leave their facilities. On the other hand, many companies can’t imagine the feasibility of purchasing expensive equipment for the purpose of destroying a few items. Such businesses choose to outsource their hard drive destruction to companies like We Buy Used Hard Drives.

We Buy Used Hard Drives is an asset liquidation firm specializing in buying used hard drives, SSDs, servers, networking, storage, memory and processors. Since 1965, We Buy Used Hard Drives has consistently maintained the highest data security standards. Their spotless reputation ensures transactions are handled efficiently, ethically, and securely from start to finish. Surprisingly, with thousands of transactions processed, they have never had one security breach or data loss.

Whichever hard drive destruction method is chosen for ridding of obsolete equipment, be aware of the fact that they contain toxic materials. As a leader in the e-waste recycling industry for over 50 years, We Buy Used Hard Drives and their parent company DTC Computer Supplies, continuously research options that lessen the chance of environmental pollution.  In fact, some computer components can be reused, and most can be recycled instead of trashed. Data security has always been the priority, but data security and recycling can work seamlessly together.

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Reference:  https://www.semshred.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/2480

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