3 essential elements for proper hard drive destruction

As information is increasingly created, used, shared and stored in digital spaces, hard drives and memory cards are also being used more extensively. As these storage mediums reach their end of life, it is essential that they are properly disposed of in order to guarantee the information they contain is protected. To find and vet a service provider look for these 3 essential elements for proper hard drive destruction: physical destruction, responsible recycling, and a certificate of destruction.

1. Physical hard drive destruction

hard drive destruction

While it may be tempting to simply delete data, it is important to remember that deleting does NOT erase information. It simply makes room for more data to be written. However, the original data can still be accessed with readily available data recovery software.

Another popular option for clearing hard drives is wiping. This uses a wiping program that not only deletes data, but overwrites the drive with new, random information in hopes of completely destroying the original data. While not all wiping programs are alike, there is always a risk of information being left behind.

The only way to guarantee the data is completely inaccessible is by physically destroying the drive. This can be accomplished by generating a strong magnetic field or, more commonly, by crushing and shredding. While physical destruction doesn’t allow the device to be resold or repurposed, it does allow important materials to be separated and recycled. So, look for a service provider that will physically destroy your hard drives.

2. Responsible recycling

responsible recycling

According to the BBC, hard drives contain important metals such as steel and aluminum and even rare earth metals such as Neodymium which is used in a wide variety of electronic devices. There are well-established methods for recycling steel and aluminum. More recently new methods are being developed to recycle the neodymium. When choosing a service provider, ask about their recycling efforts. It is difficult to recycle every component, but find a provider who is making an effort to recycle as much as possible from the destroyed hard drives.

3. Certificate of destruction

certificate of destruction

Once hard drives are physically destroyed, backtracking what happened to them can be difficult if not impossible. Choose a service provider that will record the serial number of each hard drive before it is destroyed. When the drive is finally destroyed the service provider will have a record of it. They will also supply you with a certificate of destruction which will show which drives were destroyed and when.

Now that you know the 3 essential elements for proper hard drive destruction, start taking inventory of your hard drives. Need more motivation? See this article on why you should securely destroy hard drives.

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