Secure Hard Drive Destruction
Do you have an old computer stuck in a corner somewhere? How about at work? Has a stack of old laptops taken up space in the company’s supply closet? Just one hard drive can contain hundreds of thousands of files. Your typical personal computer hard drive can contain credit card and bank account numbers, website logins and passwords, and pictures and other private documents. Work computers may hold confidential staff, client, or patient data, company financial records, and other privileged and proprietary information.
Unfortunately, this data can remain accessible on your hard drive even if it is deleted or reformatted. When a digital file is deleted from a computer, the information remains on the drive, as do deleted e-mail messages and records of all online activity. While reformatting or overwriting may be enough to prevent sensitive data from being recovered by some, a determined thief using the right techniques and equipment can recover this information. What can you do to protect yourself and your business?
Using a Data-Wiping Program
Before donating or recycling any computers, you should completely wipe or remove the hard drives. Doing this helps ensure the data on them will be erased and untraceable by data thieves. A data-wiping program is the primary method used to remove sensitive information while still keeping the hard drive usable. However, no matter how thorough a data-wiping program is, the only way to be sure a hard drive’s data is unrecoverable is to physically destroy it.
Physically Destroying Your Hard Drive
There are numerous ways to physically destroy the magnetic disk (also called a platter) inside a computer, but the following method is likely the simplest. First, you will need to locate the hard drive inside the computer. If you are having trouble finding it, check the manufacturer’s website and look up the manual or user’s guide for your model number, which should include a diagram. Next, remove as many screws as you can access on the computer and open the hard drive casing. This may require loosening additional screws depending on the make and model of your hard drive. With your hard drive removed from the computer, and your eye protection on, you will want to strike the hard drive on various sides until it starts to open. When open, extract the round silver platter disk from inside. Dent and scratch this platter thoroughly with a hammer. When sufficiently battered, take the components to your local electronics recycling center.
Using a Shredding Service
While there may be a certain appeal to taking a hammer to an old computer (particularly if it did not perform to your satisfaction!), you may prefer a less physical approach. Although you can purchase industrial strength shredders for personal use, many individuals and businesses are not able to allocate funds for this need, nor is it cost-effective. Sierra Shred provides secure hard drive destruction for individuals and businesses. Hard drive shredders literally rip drives into randomly-sized strips. The shredding process is very similar to paper shredding, but the equipment used for hard drive destruction is more forceful and capable of destroying multiple types and sizes of drives. These industrial shredders are also capable of destroying cell phones (batteries removed), PDAs, electronic organizers, and other data storage devices. The information contained within the hard drive platter remains, but since the drives are shredded, it is very difficult to retrieve. For maximum security, Sierra Shred also offers a 2-step process where the data on your drives is first permanently removed using a state-of-the-art degausser, then physically destroyed in a powerful shredder. Keep in mind, for solid state drives (SSDs) which are becoming more and more popular, shredding is the most effective method for safe and secure disposal since data-wiping does not work on them. Destroyed hard drives and other electronic devices are then recycled rather than dumped as waste.
Regardless of the option you choose, be sure to take suitable steps to protect your sensitive electronic records from falling into criminal hands. Data security is an on-going and ever-growing responsibility. By implementing appropriate destruction processes and techniques, you will protect yourself and your business. Contact Sierra Shred for a free quote today.