Friday, March 20, 2015

Why Professionally Destroying Hard Drives (HDD) or Solid State Drives (SSD) Matters

What's on a drive?  A better question might be what is not on a drive?  Could be nothing, or it could be pictures, emails, banking information, user id's and passwords, business information, personal documents, or other various items.  The point is, do we really know what is left on a drive once it is no longer in use?  Even when a drive stops working or is wiped, files can often still be recovered from them.  To the right person, these files are not difficult to procure but can put personal files or an identity at risk.

If you have old or non-working hard drives lying around collecting dust, you are not alone.  Drives are often replaced before the rest of the device because they fail or are outgrown.  Other times the entire device is replaced but old devices sit around while people figure out how to recycle or dispose of them safely.  Recycling old devices is a great way to reduce e-waste and get the most use out of devices.  However, recycling an old hard drive is never recommended unless it is still only for your use.  All other drives should be destroyed using a professional disk destruction service.

How is professionally destroying a drive different?

Professionally destroying HDD's should include degaussing the drive and physical destruction including the platters inside.  Professionally destroying SSD's should include physical destruction to the chipsets inside by punching multiple holes through the drive.  HDD's and SSD's write and store data differently which is why they are destroyed differently.  Professional disk destruction needs to be NSA, HIPAA, and HITECH compliant to ensure any files remaining on the drives can never be recovered.  After destruction a certificate of destruction including the serial number of the drive should be included.  Our disk destruction service is an example of a professional service meeting these guidelines.

Video of a typical 3.5" HDD being destroyed after being degaussed.

Who should be worried about what is on a drive no longer in use?

Anyone who used the drive for:
  • Storing emails
  • Sending, receiving, or storing personal information or confidential files
  • Online banking
  • Entering credentials for accounts
  • Businesses and non-profits
  • Government and medical offices

Everyday activities on computer devices may not seem like risky behavior at the time, but personal information in the wrong hands is always a potential threat.  Protecting data is important even if it is stored on an unusable or old drive.  The easiest, most efficient, and secure way to ensure any data left on an old drive is unrecoverable is to have the drive professional destroyed.  Protecting files from unauthorized access is often discussed yet protecting files from being recovered off older drives is often overlooked.  Be sure to protect both active and inactive drives at all time!

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