In the past, many people looking to dispose of their electronic data safely and securely have turned to “degaussing,” which is essentially the act of using a powerful, specialized magnet to erase the data on a hard drive until it becomes completely irretrievable. However, as Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become more popular (and to be honest, nearly standard on all new desktop and laptop computers), degaussing is no longer an option. In fact, according to TechRepublic, none of the traditional methods of destroying a hard drive are effective against an SSD … with the exception of physically destroying the device.
But what is degaussing – and why doesn’t it work anymore?
As stated, degaussing is basically the demagnetization process for hard drives. Hard drives, cassettes, reels, and cartridge tapes used to all be made of discs or films coated with a magnetic layer. This layer could be badly damaged by a strong magnet, which was horrible if it happened by accident but great if you were intentionally trying to destroy data on one of these types of storage devices.
As technology has improved, however, newer hard drives no longer operate with a magnetic, spinning disk inside. Instead, Solid State Drives hold your files on interconnected flash memory chips. These chips have helped make huge leaps in the computing world – especially with laptops – since they’re much more compact than a traditional hard drive and much quicker to load data (including the computer’s operating system). However, they’ve also made it much more difficult to completely destroy data by conventional methods, since a strong magnet will no longer scramble the existing data.
At Data Recycling of New England, we take hard drive destruction seriously. The first step in our process is that we overwrite the entire hard drive, erasing the existing data and replacing it with an unintelligible series of binary code. This ensures that should your hard drive fall into the “wrong hands,” any data they’re able to find on the hard drive will be completely useless. From there, we also offer the option to physically destroy the hard drive by shredding it. This is, of course, the absolute most secure route to take, since a hard drive that’s in a bunch of pieces is absolutely no use to anyone. We then take any remaining metal and recycle it to keep it out of landfills and will provide you with a Certificate of Data Destruction so that you can remain confident that your data is well and truly gone.
For more information on Data Recycling’s services, get in touch!