Ages ago, the only degaussers on the market were industrial, expensive pulse degaussers. Wand degaussers (paddle degaussers) were introduced after that as a simple, hand-held option for magnetic media sanitization. Today, the market is still dominated by hi-tech pulse degaussers. The Proton T-4 degausser is one of those models that relies on electricity to quickly demagnetize hard drives. What makes models such as the Proton 1100 wand compete in today’s market? We’re taking a close look at paddle and wand degaussers to determine when they are truly the best options for first stage hard drive destruction.
For those unfamiliar with wand degaussers: they are hand-held demagnetizers that allow users to manually erase data from hard drives. Wand degaussers are extremely compact & portable. The Proton 1100 wand weighs a mere four ounces, which is nothing compared to the 128lb Proton T-4 degausser. Since wand degaussers are extremely compact, they are also easy to store. An entire degaussing operation can be easily stored in a drawer, or taken on the go.
Wand degaussers are designed for hand-held use. These are completely wireless as there is no power needed for operation. All the user has to do is wave the wand over the exposed disk of the hard drive for about a minute or so. This effectively erases the data from the hard drive so it can’t be recovered. For NSA listed standards, it is highly recommended that you insert the degaussed hard drive into your physical destruction device after degaussing (we recommend the PDS-25 Crusher for an electricity-free operation). This is a simple process that any user can do, but there are some drawbacks.
In order for the user to degauss with the wand, they need to first expose the magnetic disk of the hard drive. The magnetic disk is located within the hard drive disk enclosure. Loosening the screws on the enclosure will give users access to the disk. From there, they can easily remove the disk and use the wand degausser. Extracting the disk from the hard drive takes just a bit more time. This may not be the best option for environments, such as government facilities or data centers, that require large quantities of hard drives to be degaussed. These kinds of clients may prefer models such as the Proton T-4 or Proton T-1.5, which degauss the hard drive in its entire casing quickly. The Proton 1100 is undoubtedly, a reliable degausser that guarantees erasure after a few minutes of wiping the wand over the hard drive disk. However, the Proton T-4 and the Proton T-1.5 have indicators that show that the hard drive has finished the degaussing process. Though the time indicator is not essential, it sure comes in handy when you’re degaussing a ton of hard drives at one time. Plus, it eliminates the possibility of user error. If there is a user error in the 1100 wand degaussing operation, there is no indicator to let you know that.
Even with these minor limitations, the price of the Proton 1100 makes it an extremely attractive option. The wand retails at a fraction of the price of the larger degaussing machines. Our Proton T-4 for instance retails around $18,000. The reason for this is that the degaussing wand is a strong hard drive degausser with a magnetic flux density of about 12,000 gauss. This is no slouch when it comes to data erasure. In fact, the 1100 wand is strong enough to be listed on the Evaluated Products List as a means of proper first stage high security hard drive destruction (NSA/CSS Spec 02-02). However, it’s undeniable that the Proton T-4 has a higher degaussing ability with a magnetic flux density of 20,000 gauss and patented Reverse Polarity technology. Even the Proton T-1.15 has an impressive magnetic flux density of 15,000 gauss.
Every industry that destroys hard drives, needs to degauss in accordance to their specific standards. Finding the right standards to adhere to can be tricky. Check out Data Destruction: Your Legal Responsibility for information on current policies. For large scale operations such as data centers or government operations, it may be a good idea to go for units such as the Proton T-4 or the Proton T-1.5. Considering the design, portability and price of wand/ paddle degaussers, it seems like this is a good choice for industries that occasionally need to destroy hard drives. Retailed at under $1000, the Proton 1100 wand is a great model to test out the power and security of paddle degaussing.