If you have sensitive material in a hard drive you no longer need, consider shredding. It's been proven to be the safest choice when it comes to hard drive destruction.
While many data breaches stem from hackers exploiting poor security, breaches happen in other ways too. For example, disgruntled employees will sometimes expose sensitive information as revenge.
A less malicious way that breaches happen stems from poor hard drive destruction. Unless you use very thorough procedures, old hard drives will still retain data.
That makes shredding the safest route for hard drive destruction. Let's jump in and take a deeper look at some of the reasons why.
1. Regular Magnets Won't Do
It's a common refrain that computers and magnets don't mix. That's true, but only to some extent.
Traditional hard drives use magnetic platters for data storage. A magnet can demagnetize those platters in a process called degaussing.
The part that gets left out is that it takes a very powerful magnet to degauss those platters. Even if you use a degausser, remnant data can linger if you miss a spot.
2. Software-Based Erasing Fails
Rather than attacking an old hard drive with magnets, some people opt for a software-based solution. The idea is that the data goes away if you overwrite the drive.
While this approach can destroy some of the data, it often leaves behind data "ghosts." People who know how to look for it can find those ghosts.
It's not a phantom fear, either. A recent study reports that around 40% of resold hard drives contain retrievable personal information.
3. Reformatting Isn't Enough
Deleting files and reformatting the drive is another common approach for destroying data on a hard drive. This approach removes address information from existing files. That makes it impossible for a casual search to turn up data.
The problem is that lots of data stays on the drive.
Think of all that data like books on a bookshelf. What deleting and reformatting does is a bit like ripping the covers off of all the books.
You don't know what each book contains anymore, but the information is still available inside the books.
4. Physical Damage Only Stops Amateurs
Some people prefer the brute force approach. They'll drill a hole straight through their hard drives, hit them with hammers, or burn them.
This prevents anyone from simply popping the drive into another computer. It doesn't destroy all the data. With the right equipment, someone can pull information from the undamaged parts of the disc platters.
5. Legal Consequences
For businesses, erasing old hard drives is also a legal matter. Health care professionals, for example, must follow HIPAA rules about privacy.
Let a hard drive slip into the open with patient information on it and you can face legal action.
Parting Thoughts on Hard Drive Destruction
Shredding offers the safest route for hard drive destruction because the other methods often don't destroy all the data. Exposing other people's personal information can also leave you open to legal action.
Most shredding machines degauss the drives and then reduce them to tiny pieces. This combination makes it next to impossible for any data retrieval.
High Security Paper Shredders specialize in document, mixed media, and hard drive destruction. For more information about our shredders, contact us today.