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Hard Disk Drive Destruction: 4 Common Ways to do it

Hard drives are sometimes destroyed to make the data stored unreadable. There are good and bad ways to destroy hard disks. Common hard disk destruction techniques include degaussing, crushing/mangling, shredding, and disintegration.

Degaussing

This term is commonly mentioned during the process of data wiping. It clears data from drives by passing the drives in electromagnetic pulses or magnetic fields in a shut chamber. Hard disk degaussing can be effective but it’s not always a perfect method because demagnetization may not reach every platter or all parts. So, a two-step destruction procedure is strongly recommended. Also, degaussing chambers are expensive and often need special training, which makes it unrealistic for small to medium-size companies.
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Shredding
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Just like a paper shredder that tears paper into shreds, a hard disk shredder has powerful blades that rip hard disks apart, such that it’s nearly impossible to piece the tiny shreds back together. While a hard drive shredder can destroy many different drive sizes and types, from a single one to several thousand at a go, it’s usually heavy, bulky and requires consistent AC power source to operate. Depending on the type, shredders can destroy electronic organizers , smartphones, PDAs, hard disks, and other storage media. They’re definitely not suitable for an office setting.

Disintegration

Disintegrators are usually used in companies that deal with very highly classified information and use a rotary knife and conveyor belt to rip hard disks into unrecognizable pieces that can’t be pieced back together. While disintegrators are very effective, they’re also heavy and bulky, and need special reliable AC energy supply to run. They may also need ventilation outside the premises, which is very likely under the control of federal, state or local authorities. Just like shredders, disintegrators are definitely not good for office environments.

Mangling/crushing

This method is extremely cost-effective for small and mid-size firms that can’t afford to buy or lease expensive hard disk shredders and degaussers.

Manglers/crushers destroy hard drives through the use of immense pressure that crushes the chassis and mangles the platter, leaving the hard drive pretty much unreadable. Manglers/crushers can be bought either as electrically or manually-powered.

Manually-powered devices have a hydraulic-run handle that’s used to run a strong steel plate that squashes the chassis and drive. Some crushers may load 1-2 disks at a time, based on your company’s needs and don’t require much training to operate. In contrast, electrically-powered manglers can be dearer and may require a bit of maintenance and little physical interaction. Both types have chambers that allow safe operation, and come in a completely enclosed casing. There are even smaller sizes that can be used on desktops.