HARD DRIVE DESTRUCTION SIMPLIFIED
By Hellen Lubanga
Due to how ingrained our devices are in our everyday lives, it is easy to forget that our entire identities are saved onto our phones, laptops, and desktops.
This is because the hard drives on our devices store a large amount of our personal information such as our contact details, credit history, debit or credit card numbers, bank/SACCO account numbers, login authorization, past searches, pictures, passwords, and more. These records even when “erased” or reformatted using data wiping software can never really be truly destroyed. So before you throw out or recycle your pc, make sure you wipe your drives. It is best to approach data destruction professionals who possess expertise in hard drive disposal to make sure that the records on the hard drives being disposed of are untraceable by data thieves.
So how is your information disposed of safely?
Hard drive destruction and disposal is done in several ways, however, the most commonly used methods involve:
Drilling refers to the puncturing of holes into the device in an attempt to destroy the plating of the hard drive. This ensures that the data on the device can never be accessed or retrieved. Another benefit of this method is that you only need a drill or handgun to complete the process and there is no need for more complex equipment. But before you go out and buy a drill, you have to keep in mind that this process can be extremely dangerous if you do not possess the protective equipment and know-how needed to safely carry out the process. Before drilling, you need to predetermine and prepare for the steps, resources, and responsibilities legally required to protect the person entrusted with destroying the hard drive and the owner of the data.
Shredding in this instance involves the crushing/ breaking of the hard drive into tiny pieces using an industrialized shredder. This process makes it impossible to recover any parts of the hard drive once the destruction process is complete.
Shredding should be left to the professionals, not only because they possess the specialized equipment to carry out the process safely, but they are also are less likely to contaminate the environment with the remnants of the shards of metal and plastic that previously made up the hard drive. Data destruction companies already have a recycling procedure in place that they follow to ensure all waste is ethically disposed of.
With Hard drive disintegration, the hard drives pass through a conveyor belt system where they are met by hardened Steel blades that slice the hard drives into minute-sized particles. The equipment used is commonly known as disintegrators, which are extremely effective in Hard drive destruction, however, they require specialized installation and upkeep which would not justify the purchase of one for in-house use. This is why it is advisable to approach professionals
Puncturing is similar to drilling, however, the difference is that puncturing is automated therefore more precise and faster. During the puncturing process, the hard drives are placed in a machine and punctured with multiple industrial-sized pins. This process leaves the hard drives full of holes making them permanently unusable.
Melting of Hard drives involves submerging the devices in a molten vat of hot liquid or Acid. In comparison to other forms of document destruction, this is easily the most dangerous, the use of Acids such as nitric acid or Hydrochloric acid should only be handled by professionals. Attempts to carry out the processes as a company or individual not trained in this particular form of destruction is highly discouraged seeing that you not only risk physical harm but toxic environmental leaks with long-term effects.
Degaussing is relatively new to the market when compared to the other destruction methods discussed. In simpler terms degaussing refers to the use of a device known as a degausser that contains strong magnetic energy used to scramble hard drives by altering the magnetic direction that the storage devices used to store and function normally, that way the information cannot be used or read. Degaussers should not be confused with everyday magnets. A smaller retail magnet does not have nearly enough magnetic force to alter how the hard drive stores data and would not be able to carry alter the inner workings of the device.
The major disadvantage associated with degaussing is the fact that it uses magnetic fields to scramble data, it, therefore, is not as effective on external storage such as flash disks or tapes that are not power reliant as is the case with hard drives
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