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How to Permanently Destroy Data on a CD/DVD

CDs and DVDs can be a very cheap and convenient way to store a certain amount of data on. One use for CDs/DVDs is giving data to a friend when you can’t transfer it over the internet. While the media still has its place as a storage facility, there may come a time when you need to destroy the data that you once wrote to the disc. Perhaps there are personal family photos on there or private financial spreadsheets; whatever the reason, you need to wipe the data from the disc but you don’t know how.

If your disc is rewritable then you can simply delete the data from it and rewrite it with new data. However, if the disc only allowed you to write and doesn’t let you edit the data anymore then you have a different issue on your hands. The most secure way to ensure that your data is gone forever is to physically destroy the disc.

If you routinely have to destroy discs then you should look into buying a shredder than can handle it. A lot of office shredders have this feature built in and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be expensive. Amazon offer shredders as part of their ‘Basic’ range, for example, that’ll do the job. How your shredder destroys your disc will depend on the model – some will literally cut them, others dent them all over to make the disc unreadable.

If destroying discs isn’t a regular occurrence then there are other methods you can use. One popular method that people use is to snap the disc in half, but this is quite dangerous. Shards from the disc could fly out and pierce skin or hit you in the eye. If you insist on using this method, then at the very least do it outside, wear protection and cover the disc with a cloth before snapping. It might sound extreme, but it is little effort compared to shard damaging your eye!

If you wanted to go even more out there, to ensure that absolutely nothing can be recovered, then you could burn the disc until it’s all gone. However, bear in mind that some organisations (including the government) require you to keep proof that the data existed and has been destroyed. If anything is questioned, for example, then the destroyed disc can be presented. One method to ensure this security is to grind the disc, which will destroy the data but keep the actual physical disc present. You could also sandpaper one side of the disc down until all of the data has been wiped off.

Depending on how private the data is on your disc, you probably won’t have to go to some of the extreme methods outlined above. But it is always good to be wary of how it is possible to recover data from media formats, even where you think you’ve deleted it. Sometimes the best way can be to physically destroy the format and make the data lost to the sands of time!


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