Just think for a moment about all the data that could be stored on your hard drive. Emails, financial accounts, bank information… imagine if it fell in to the wrong hands, the consequences could be disastrous. It might sound over the top, but it’s entirely plausible. This is why it is very important the hard drives of your computers are securely destroyed. The government even have set standards that must be met when disposing of a hard drive to ensure that the information that was stored on it can no longer be accessed.
When you delete something from your computer it is not actually deleted - even if you remove it from the Recycle Bin. When something is deleted, the file is actually made invisible and marked as being able to be overwritten. But depending on the size of the drive and how often data is written, it could take months before something else overwrites what was deleted. Even formatting the drive is not enough to ensure that the file has been removed permanently. There is still every chance that it could be lingering. If you still want to use the drive afterwards, but want rid of all the data on it, then there are programs on the market that will securely delete the data. These programs overwrite the files that are being deleted with random data; the more overwrites the better.
However, to really make sure that the data on the hard drive is gone for good, you will want to physically damage the drive for a peace of mind. The first method you could use is crushing. You can buy these machines at a relatively low price and they are good for handling a small amount of drives. It is a basic method of destruction and, simply, crushes and pierces the drive. The data on the drive is still there, but far harder to access in its malformed state.
Another method is to use a hard drive shredder. These act much like a standard shredder that you may have in the office does, but on a much more industrial scale. These are great for destroying vast amounts of drives in a short space of time. The shredders can handle any size of drive and will destroy it beyond any sort of repair. The data still logically exists on the platters, but putting the drive back together so that it functions is a near impossible task.
Finally, there is degaussing. This is where powerful magnetic fields are used to erase all the information that is stored on the drive. Different hard drives have varying magnetic densities, so if you are degaussing then it is important to have a device that will work for your model of drive.
Of course, your business may not be able to afford the machinery needed to securely destroy a hard drive. There are companies out there who specialise in destroying secure data, but be sure to do your research if that is the option you are going for. You will want to know exactly how they destroy your data and what sort of security they have in place to ensure that your data is being legitimately destroyed. It is nothing like doing it yourself, but it may prove the cheaper option.
Secure Destruction of a Hard Disk Drive
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