The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed guide on hard drive destruction services and how they protect your data when you hire them to destroy your hard drives. It gives steps on why shredding is the best way for destroying hard drives and discusses how secure professional companies are when they destroy your data using one of their processes.
This article will cover different types of hard drive destruction, such as shredding and degaussing, and two other ways that can also be used: overwriting and physical destruction (including drilling). Finally, the article will conclude with a Certificate of Destruction example.
Table of Contents
What do hard drive destruction services do?
Services often charge around $1-5 per pound to take electronic devices such as laptops or desktop computers. This fee usually includes all components, including the computer itself and any peripherals (such as USB cables).
When hiring these companies, make sure that they remove both internal and external hard drives before recycling/destroying your device(s). The primary goal of these companies is to protect their client’s privacy by ensuring that all data is destroyed.
Some companies might charge an extra fee for destroying the hard drive, but most include it in their price. Most services do not allow you to bring your hard drive(s) because they will destroy them in-house using high-powered magnets or shredders.
An x-ray may be used to confirm that the device has been destroyed after being placed in a degausser/magnetizer. Several different destruction methods can be used when hiring these professionals, including physical destruction (including drilling), overwriting, and degaussing/shredding.
Why must you destroy your hard drive securely?
The main reason you must destroy your hard drive securely is that it protects you from identity theft. If a criminal finds your old, decommissioned laptop or desktop computer, they will have access to all of your data saved on the device before you get rid of it.
In addition to stealing your personal information, several other negative things could happen:
- The person can find and intimidate ex-employees (if the hard drive contains sensitive information).
- Your pictures and videos could be stolen and found by others (even if they say they won’t)!
- Documents containing trade secrets could be recovered and used against you.
- The criminal activity might escalate due to identity theft/corruption resulting from people accessing your information.
- Most importantly, you want to feel secure about what happens with your old hard drive!
If a criminal does get access to the data on your old hard drive(s), it could be costly and difficult to recover from. It will take a lot of time and money to get back control over your personal information, which is why it’s wise to securely destroy your hard drives using one of several methods discussed later in this article.
Why is shredding the best way to destroy hard drives?
When hiring a company or doing destruction yourself, always choose physical destruction over overwriting when dealing with hard drives. This means you should never do a “low level” overwrite of the hard drive but instead go for physical destruction.
Whenever data is being overwritten, it remains intact on the device until it is no longer accessible by the operating system. This means that, even after several rewrites, your old data can still be recovered using special software until it is entirely erased/destroyed!
The two best ways to destroy hard drives are degaussing and shredding. A degausser erases all magnetic information from your computer or other electronic devices. There are three types of degaussers: low-powered, medium-powered, and high-powered.
When hiring professional services to remove sensitive information from old hard drives, make sure they use a high-powered degausser.
A shredder is the best way to destroy hard drives because it cuts your data into tiny pieces, rendering it completely unusable. Using a gas-powered thermal cutting system, these devices can cut through materials such as ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, optical discs (CDs/DVDs), and credit cards.
Most of the time, you won’t be able to recover information after being shredded by one of these systems!
Hard drive destruction software vs. shredding
Although there are a few exceptions, overwriting is not a proper way to destroy your hard drive. Overwriting data on your hard disk only changes the first 1s and 0s. It does not physically alter or delete anything from the drive! Using software that writes over these sections multiple times will eventually wipe all of the old data out.
However, as mentioned above, as long as there is still space on the device available for writing new information, data can still survive in those sections! This means that overwriting should never be used to erase/destroy sensitive information because it could be recovered with special software programs if done incorrectly!
You can see that even if you write over your data multiple times, it doesn’t have that “destroyed” look when shredded. Although overwriting isn’t entirely useless, physical destruction using tools such as gas-powered thermal cutting systems is the only viable way to destroy hard drives securely!
How secure are professional hard drive destruction services?
It’s important to note that whenever you hire a company or person for this service, be sure they are certified in proper hard drive destruction by an industry certification group. For more information regarding online hard drive destruction certificates, just Google “online hard drive destruction certificates,” and you should be able to find a vast list of resources.
However, one big concern hasn’t been listed on certification websites: How do we know that they’ve destroyed our data? As mentioned before, it’s possible to write over your old data multiple times without actually destroying the information.
To ensure maximum security during the hard drive destruction process, make sure they physically destroy the device(s) using tools such as gas-powered thermal cutting systems! Shredding gives us peace of mind knowing that our sensitive information is no longer accessible by third parties or criminals.
Certificate of destruction for hard drives
A certificate of destruction is a simple document that states a company has destroyed all data on a storage device, such as electronic devices and paper documents. This document can be used to verify data deletion and uphold compliance regulations for companies that deal with sensitive information, such as healthcare organisations.
This is one good reason every company should invest in proper security procedures when dealing with their employees and managing sensitive information on their storage devices! Some examples of data included in the document:
For example, Device Model: Seagate ST500LT012 Serial Number: CV7QN9ZR Firmware: CC49 (2.41) Capacity: 465 GB.
The certificate of destruction should be provided to the customer as a PDF file, and it’s recommended that the document be encrypted with an online public key for better security. The total number of pages destroyed or shredded and video footage showing the entire process should be part of this document.
To learn more about why you need a certificate of destruction for hard drives, just Google “certificate of destruction,” and you’ll find many resources online.
When dealing with data recovery/data erasure companies, we must remember that they will never destroy your storage device entirely without keeping any piece of it to themselves! They don’t want to risk their business by following proper security procedures to protect your data.
It’s also illegal for them to keep your storage device after the service is complete. This is why it’s essential that you physically destroy your hard drive using tools such as gas-powered thermal cutting systems so that none of the companies involved in destroying or erasing your data can access it anymore.