August 08, 2017

Top 10 Unsafe Hard Drive Disposal Methods & Secure Alternatives

What does your workplace do with its old hard drives?

Data files remain on a hard drive no matter how old or how broken down a computer seems to be. Any confidential information such as old emails, banking information, social media posts, financial and tax records, price lists, customer data, etc. can be used for identity theft and other criminal activities.  

What’s most important when looking to dispose of a hard drive is safety, ease, and effectiveness. But a quick search online reveals a range of sometimes crazy - even dangerous - hard drive destruction methods. 

Here are the 10 most risky ways to dispose of hard drives (these methods are not recommended): 

  1. Bash it with a hammer. Bits of glass or metal will fly all over. 
  2. Blow torch. This will require protective gear, as well as holding platters at a distance with a heat resistant tool. 
  3. Acid bath. Dunking a hard drive platter into a container of battery acid is not safe or easy. 
  4. Burn in a fireplace.  Extreme heat is required to melt a hard drive, and it will give off dangerous fumes.
  5. Toss into a lake. Data forensics experts say that while water may short out electronics, data may still be accessible.
  6. Shoot holes into the drive. Using a hard drive platter as target practice is not a safe or easy option. 
  7. Recycle the hard drive. A hard drive can easily be removed from a recycling bin by an information thief..
  8. Stockpile it. Confidential information on stockpiled computers remains vulnerable to theft. 
  9. Delete or reformat files. It’s impossible to truly delete files from a computer. Even reformatting may not prevent information from being recovered by special software.   
  10. Wipe the drive or degauss it. Wiping does not guarantee the removal of data. Degaussing (eliminating a magnetic field) does not necessarily render data un-recoverable. 

When disposing of a hard drive, a workplace (and individuals) should consider how realistic the method is, the safety aspects, liability, and the volume of devices that will need to be destroyed. Outsourcing to a reputable document destruction company is the most secure, easy, and effective method.

The company will provide regularly scheduled pick-ups of legacy and old equipment, and secure chain of custody processes for destruction. State-of-the-art equipment will be used to shear (slicing the hard drive into small pieces) or crush (punching an irreparable hold through each hard drive) hard drives.

Following destruction, the company will send a Certificate of Destruction. Plus, it will partner with a trusted recycling company to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Start Protecting Your Business 

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.