Understanding Resources

4 Common Methods to Destroy Hard Disk Drives

Hard drives are sometimes destroyed to make the data stored unreadable. There are good and bad ways to destroy hard disks. Common ways to destroy hard drives include shredding, degaussing, disintegration, and crushing/mangling.

Degaussing

This is a term that's usually mentioned during data wiping. It wipes away data by passing a hard disk drive through electromagnetic pulses or magnetic fields in a closed chamber. Hard disk degaussing can be effective but it's not always a perfect method because demagnetization may not reach every platter or all parts. Thus, a two-step process of destruction is strongly recommended. Also, degaussing chambers are expensive and often need special training, which makes it unrealistic for small to medium-size companies.
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Shredding
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Like paper shredders in the office that rip paper into shreds, a hard drive shredder has strong blades that rip hard drives into tiny shreds that it's virtually impossible to piece the shreds back together. Although hard disk shredders can destroy many sizes and types of drives from several thousand at a time to just one at a time, they're usually bulky, heavy and usually need special consistent AC power supply to run. Depending on the type, shredders can destroy electronic organizers , smartphones, PDAs, hard disks, and other storage media. They're certainly unsuitable for office use.

Disintegration

Disintegrators are usually used in companies that deal with very highly classified information and use a rotary knife and conveyor belt to rip hard disks into unrecognizable pieces that can't be pieced back together. While very efficient, disintegrators are heavy and bulky too, and need special reliable AC power supply to operate. They may also need ventilation outside the premises, which is very likely under the control of federal, state or local authorities. Just like shredders, disintegrators are definitely not good for office environments.

Mangling/crushing

This method is known to be highly cost-effective for mid-size or small companies without resources to lease or purchase expensive hard drive degaussers and shredders.

Manglers or crushers destroy hard drives by applying massive pressure on them to mangle the platter and crush the chassis, making the hard drive practically unreadable. Crushers/manglers are available either as manually or electrically-powered.

Manually-powered devices have a hydraulic-run handle that's used to run a strong steel plate that squashes the chassis and drive. Some manglers can be loaded with up to two disks at a time, based on your organization's needs and require less training to operate. Conversely, electrically-powered crushes may be dearer and can require a little maintenance and minimal physical interaction. Both types have chambers that allow safe operation, and come in a completely enclosed casing. There are also small sizes that can be operated on a desktop.

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