It’s easy to choose hard drive shredding services out of habit. Let your objectives determine which method fits best.
Looking for hard drive shredding services? You’re in good company. Hard drive shredding is often the default option for many businesses.
Some like the idea of knowing their end-of-life IT assets have been physically destroyed beyond repair. Others may be prevented by regulations to select another method that leaves resale on the table.
Regardless of where you fall, it can be helpful to consider your options. In previous posts, we’ve discussed why physical destruction is not always the best path, especially if recouping value is the primary aim. But there are also instances when regulations and the nature of your sensitive data require hard drive shredding services.
Let’s take a look at three common options for data destruction and when they make sense to pursue.
1. Hard Drive Shredding
Hard drive shredding provides the most visceral means of destruction available — and that alone appeals to many people. High-profile data breaches and class-action lawsuits have put everyone on high alert. With so much at stake, there’s something to be said for turning your most sensitive assets into literal crumbs.
Please note, though, that physical destruction is not the same as taking a hammer to your hard drives or drilling holes into them (we’ve seen both). Only mechanical destruction performed by a certified partner with the right shredding equipment can guarantee absolute security.
At GER, for example, we use the Untha Shredder, which shreds hard drivers in compliance with NIST 800-88 and the DIN 66399-2 safety standard (destruction systems for files and data carriers). When the job is finished, your drives are completely destroyed and your data completely unrecoverable.
When should you use hard drive shredding services?
This method is typically ideal for highly secure and sensitive data, related to finance, national security, and patient privacy (HIPAA). When regulations prevent resale, hard drive shredding services remove all uncertainty since there’s simply no way of rebuilding a shredded drive.
It’s fast, cost-effective, and can be equipped for mobile destruction at your own site.
It’s not the most environmentally friendly option; the process is noisy and messy; and it removes the opportunity to recoup value by remarketing the asset.
Just like shredding, degaussing is a form of physical destruction. And just like hard drive shredding services, it tends to be a go-to option for companies even when regulations don’t call for it. Some are wary of shipping assets for recycling without putting their drives through degaussing. And once a practice becomes a habit, it’s naturally harder to change.
Degaussing renders data unrecoverable by using a highly powerful magnetic field to permanently remove magnetic properties from the iron oxide or chromium dioxide coatings. With the recorded data pattern erased, we dismantle the hard drive and recycle its components.
When should you use degaussing?
Degaussing is, for some companies, the only way to satisfy a federal requirement related to the destruction of clearance-level information (“Classified” or “Top Secret”).
It’s a fast and efficient method with a lower price tag than hard drive shredding. It renders the hard drive completely unusable.
The benefit of rendering the drive unusable is also a drawback. By causing permanent damage to the storage system, reuse or resell are no longer options. Also, while degaussing is effective on magnetic media, such as hard drives and tapes, it does not work on flash drives and SSDs.
3. Data Erasure/Wiping
Data erasure preserves the integrity of an asset for resale while ensuring NIST 800-88 compliance. This software-based method securely overwrites data from any data storage device using zeroes and ones.
Again, we need to point out that data deletion and reformatting do not fulfill the criteria for proper data sanitization. This may seem obvious but a Blancco survey — Blancco is a leader in data erasure software/hardware and our vendor — showed 56% of IT professionals believe a quick or full drive reformat will permanently delete data.
In contrast, the Blancco hard drive erasure process includes several steps designed to verify that your device has no residual data and that data cannot be recovered even with the help of advanced forensic tools. Your assets receive: firmware level erasure (including full data sanitization verification), validation as an operational device ready for resale, and stored reports for proof and certification.
When should you use data erasure/wiping?
For companies that seek to recoup value in secondary markets, this is the method of choice. Since it involves no physical destruction, the sanitized equipment safely enters resale platforms in good condition. Unless regulations demand that you choose another method, we often recommend data erasure for this reason.
In addition to increasing resale value, data erasure/wiping also generates no e waste. With increased focus on sustainability and reducing carbon footprints, you can leverage this method to raise your green profile.
The method is more complex and time-consuming than physical destruction. It also may not be effective for damaged devices.
Do you still think hard drive shredding services are the best fit for you? Or, are there other methods that better align with your objectives?
If you need assistance or advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help.
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