Most average computer users never realize the vast amounts of sensitive data they store on their hard drives. If you own a computer in 2018 you should know how to destroy an old hard drive. When it comes to disposing of old hard drives, many people throw caution to the wind.
However, for business owners, more through and care should be put into this process. According to the Federal Trade Commission regulations, you must take the utmost precaution to ensure that this information does not find its way into the hands of hackers and cybercriminals. For this reason, when you’re ready to dispose of the redundant electronics being used in your organization, you must know how to destroy an old hard drive efficiently
One indisputable fact about old hard drives is that they are a big security liability. Identity thieves are always aware that most people take this risk for granted. To protect yourself against identity theft, you must dispose of your old hard drive securely. Some DIY methods can get the job done to a satisfactory level, especially for personal computers. However, at the business level, the risks are exponentially greater and, therefore, the surest way to destroy sensitive data is by entrusting the job with a reliable data destruction solution provider.
How to Destroy An Old Hard Drive Properly
Destroying a hard drive is easy. You don’t need to learn special skills of how to destroy an old hard drive. Almost anything that can cause damage to the platters (aluminum plates lined with a magnetic film) can physically destroy a hard drive. However, the real deal is destroying the data. Sometimes destroying the physical components of the drive may not be sufficient to obliterate the actual data.
Total data obliteration requires methods and techniques that guarantee zero chance of recoverability. The good news is that there are quite a number of proven hard drive destruction techniques that guarantee total data destruction. Some DIY methods, if done right, can do great damage to the data and make it extremely hard to salvage. As always, professional-grade techniques offer the best guarantees when it comes to eliminating data breach risks.
Proven Techniques for How to Destroy an Old Hard Drive
Physical Hard Drive Destruction
There are so many ways to physically destroy a hard drive, varying from simple DIY home methods to complex NSA-certified destruction techniques. One of the easiest and cheapest DIY methods to destroy a hard drive is to crush it with a heavy object. A sledgehammer can do wonders but you can use any object that can cause significant damage to the platters. You want to make it extremely hard or simply not viable for anyone to try and recover any data from the damaged drive.
Burning the drive may also cause significant damage to its critical parts. However, one question the handiest people ask is, can you destroy a hard drive by putting it in the water? The simple answer is no. Water on its own isn’t sufficient to destroy the data on the platters. You need something that can cause serious corrosion to the platters, such as a highly corrosive chemical. Hard drive shredding is also routinely used to destroy hard drives permanently. If done well, physical hard drive shredding provides high assurance of total data destruction.
Software Based Shredders
How to destroy old hard drive without damaging the physical device? A file eraser might be the weapon you need. Software-based hard drive shredders employ complex algorithms to erase or overwrite the data on a hard drive multiple times so that it cannot be read again. The most common process entails deleting the data and then replacing it with arbitrary characters.
Most software-based shredders are pretty effective for wiping non-sensitive data. However, if you’re dealing with highly classified information, you might want to consider a more effective method that guarantees total data destruction.
Degaussing uses magnets to completely destroy hard drives and render them unusable. This process employs machines specially designed to destroy data on a hard drive permanently. Many data destruction techniques use combination methods that typically start with degaussing and end with a physical destruction process or recycling.
If you have highly sensitive data stored on old hard drives, the best and only way to dispose of the drives is to choose a military-grade destruction solution that is NSA certified. Typically, such solutions are a reserve of reputed and proven data destruction solution providers such as Data Destruction Corporation.
Other Less Practical Methods of Destroying a Hard Drive
When working out how to destroy a hard drive, you might learn about different methods. But as you’ll find, most of these methods are largely ineffective. Here’s why:
- You could try dipping the hard drive in water but aside from the electronic circuits shorting out, you won’t incur much damage.
- Laptops typically have glass platters. To destroy these platters, you could remove the platter from the casing and smash the glass. However, you risk hurting yourself with the shards.
- In the case of aluminum hard drives, it is a common misconception that running a major scratch or crack on the platter can make spinning it impossible. Keep in mind that determined hackers can extract information without having to spin the platter.
- Using acid on the hard disk platters is another method that you could try. But, again, you risk hurting yourself as you work. In addition, you’ll need to be careful about the potentially dangerous toxic fumes released by the reaction of the acid on the platter material.
- One of the methods of how to destroy a hard drive is burning it in a fire. However, you could end up causing environmental damage with the escaping fumes.
Have you ever attempted a DIY method to find out how to destroy an old hard drive? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.
Certified Data Destruction Company is a Wiser Option
Search the internet and you’ll receive lots of information on how to destroy a hard drive on your own. Given the sensitivity of the information you might have saved on the hard drives, it is advisable that you work with a certified equipment destruction company. Here’s why:
- Expert professionals use specialized equipment as listed on the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) Public Information Evaluated Products List for HDD destruction devices.
- Customized hard drive shredding equipment crushes the hard drives completely or reduces them to particles of around 2mm.
- Highly-trained personnel chooses the appropriate shredding devices according to the kind of hard drives you have like for instance, SSDs or HDDs.
- You’ll receive a certificate that indemnifies your business against any possible liabilities arising from data breaches.
- The data destruction company will provide you with a list of the serial numbers of the hard drives they’ve handled.
- After shredding the hard drives, the company dispatches the shards to recycling plants that manage used electronics and metals. Here, efficient mechanisms meltdown the shards into their alloy state for reuse.
When looking for options on how to destroy a hard drive, you’ll come across several ideas that seem practical and effective. However, the only secure method that ensures thorough shredding of your hard drives and effective erasing of the information is to work with certified professionals. Trust in the services provided by Data Destruction to keep you and your business safe from the threat of data breaches that can result in major losses.