How to Safely Dispose of Hard Drives in UK & Ireland
Millions of hard drives are discarded annually in UK & Ireland, often leaving sensitive data at risk of breach, raising a critical question among companies: How to dispose of hard drives safely and securely?
Methods of Hard Drive Destruction
As we have learned, simply deleting files or physically breaking hard drives isn’t enough to guarantee data security.
Even when a hard drive is physically damaged or broken into pieces, as long as the magnetic coating on the platters where the data is stored remains intact and readable, data retrieval is still possible.
In this section, we’ll explore various methods of hard drive destruction, assessing their effectiveness in permanently eliminating data risks, protecting sensitive information and complying with GDPR.
Hard Drive Crushing
What is it?
Some companies invest in a specialised Hard Drive Crusher, that essentially bends the HDD in such a manner that the internal platter disks into pieces.
- Relatively cheap to perform inhouse
- Several variations of crushing machine available
- Sizes of disk fragment cannot be guaranteed, and large enough sections of disk could still yield sensitive data.
Hard Drive Degaussing
What is it?
Hard drive degaussing uses strong magnetic fields to erase data on magnetic media such as HDDs, by disrupting their magnetic memory, rendering the data unrecoverable.
- No Debris or physical waste
- Enables whole recycling of component pieces
- Can be done in house
- Without physical destruction, you may wish to load the drive to ensure data is gone for peace of mind
- Cannot erase SSD drives
- Could potentially leave some data on certain hard drive types
- Degaussing machines can be expensive
Hard Drive Wiping
What is it?
Companies are able to erase data from hard drives by using specialist software to overwrite existing information with new data.
- Allows for the reuse of the hard drive, or resale to generate a revenue return for the customer
- Multiple different device types can be wiped
- Environmentally friendly, reducing ewaste, no recycling or landfill
- Not all wiping software is equal, Vyta uses Blancco drive eraser, the world leading software to ensure all data is destroyed
- Time intensive without the correct setup for wiping multiple devices
- Expensive wiping software licenses
Hard Drive Shredding
What is it?
Hard Drive Shredding involves the drives being placed into an industrial shredder, reducing the device into tiny fragments.
- Inherently data secure, provides peace of mind at a glance that the debris contains no data
- The fastest method for destroying multiple devices
- Some shredders may not shred finely enough, companies should look for 20mm, if not 6mm shredded debris size for complete data security.
- Requires a specialist and certified shredding partner, such as DiskShred.
What is the Best Hard Drive Destruction Solution?
When deciding on the best method for hard drive destruction, there are several options available. However, for complete and assured destruction of data, hard drive shredding is often the top choice.
This method is not only swift, efficient, and secure but is also recognised under GDPR guidelines as a safe way to destroy data. Unlike hard drive crushing and degaussing, shredding leaves no chance for data-bearing media fragments to be large enough for data retrieval. It guarantees that all remaining pieces are no bigger than the set shredding size.
While hard drive wiping is a secure method, effectively erasing all data while preserving the device – the most sustainable option – some organisations, perhaps due to less familiarity with modern wiping technology, still feel more secure with shredding. They perceive it as offering a higher level of data security, a necessity for their organisational requirements.
Not all shredding services are equal, so choosing one with the right capabilities is key.