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How to Destroy a Hard Drive: Hard Drive Disposal and Degaussing

How to Destroy a Hard Drive: Hard Drive Disposal and Degaussing

Transitioning between offices is often a stressful and chaotic process. Within this situation, loss and theft present major problems. Organizations that are not intentional about hard drive disposal can run into major problems.  These can include regulatory breaches, if they are not careful during an office move.

Hard Drive Disposal: Setting a foundation for success through chain of custody

Guidance from the U.K.’s National Health Service pointed out that organizations planning for a move must take a full inventory of all files and computing assets that contain sensitive information. This includes anything ranging from employment records to personally identifiable data in any form. Businesses that fail to properly log and track all of their details can run into problems accurately tracking assets throughout the move.  That said, this type of regulatory requirement represents a best practice across a wide of sectors and is not specific to geographic region.

“Properly destroying a hard drive is a key process during office moves.”

Any business preparing for a move must ensure complete chain of custody of data at all time.  This is true whether they are managing the move themselves or depending on third-party specialists. This is a vital consideration when it comes to properly destroying any hardware containing data, such as hard drives. A BDaily report highlighted that while a variety of data destruction options are available for businesses making a move and decommissioning hardware, disk degaussing is the most effective method. Organizations can’t afford to simply discard hard disks or old computers and expect them to be ignored. Data thieves and opportunists are likely to target businesses that are moving.  They do so in the hopes they’ll find stray hard drives in the trash or unearth similar data destruction oversights.

Establishing a complete inventory of assets and tracking how they travel between locations is a critical first step. Logs must be created for hardware, then companies can begin the process properly destroying data before disposing of decommissioned hardware.

Hard Drive Disposal: Data destruction done right

The idea that physically destroying a hard disk renders data secure is a common fallacy in the business world. Yes, if you shred, drill through or crush a hard disk, an average person won’t get information from it. However, data forensics units or similar specialists can. In cases of industrial espionage the information is often valuable enough to be worth the effort. Because of that, organizations cannot simply reformat drives, physically destroy them and move on.

Hard disk degaussing provides a major edge over physical destruction alone in hard drive disposal. A degausser will disrupt the magnetic forces of a hard disk, rendering data impossible to capture and making the drive useless. Properly destroying a hard drive is a key process during office moves involving computing system decommissioning, and degaussers are often the best option. Organizations using degaussers can:

  • At a minimum, companies must purchase degaussing wands.
  • Use high-end degaussers to wipe servers and similar systems with resilient hard disks.
  • Deploy shredders to simplify physical disk destruction once data has been removed.

Decommissioning hard disks can prove complex because of the combination of environmental and data protection standards involved. Hard drive disposal is not as simple as hitting a hard drive with a hammer or a screwdriver.  However, degaussers simplify the data destruction process.  Organizations that invest in a degausser on-site can maintain chain of custody with relative ease. From there, using a shredder makes physical destruction easier, leaving scrap available for collection and proper disposal. In conclusion, clearly documented data destruction processes supported with the right hardware can simplify an office move and keep data safe.

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