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Hard Disk Drive Destruction: 4 Common Ways to do it

People often destroy hard disks to make the stored data unreadable. There are good and bad ways to destroy hard disks. Common methods of hard disk drive destruction include degaussing, shredding, disintegration, and mangling or crushing.

Degaussing

This term is often mentioned in data wiping. It clears data from drives by passing the drives in electromagnetic pulses or magnetic fields in a shut 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. Therefore, two steps of destruction are highly recommended. In addition, degaussing chambers are expensive and usually require special training, which makes it out of reach for small to mid-size firms.
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Shredding
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Just like a paper shredder that tears paper into shreds, a hard disk shredder has powerful blades that rip hard disks apart, such that it’s nearly impossible to piece the tiny shreds back together. While a hard disk shredder can destroy various drive types and sizes, from a few thousand to one at a go, it’s typically bulky, heavy and normally requires a reliable AC power source to operate. 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 normally used by companies that handle highly classified data and use a rotary knife as well as conveyor belt to rip hard drives into unrecognizable bits that cannot be joined back together. While very effective, disintegrators are bulky and heavy as well, and require special consistent AC power supply to run. 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.

Crushing/Mangling

This technique is thought to be one of the most economical for small to mid-size organizations that have no resources to lease or buy costly shredding or degaussing equipment.

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 or manglers are sold either as hand or electric-powered.

Hand-driven devices come with a handle that’s hydraulically operated to make a strong steel plate crush the chassis and drive. Some crushers may load 1-2 disks at a time, based on your company’s needs and don’t require much training to operate. On the other hand, electrically-powered crushers can be more costly and may need less physical interaction and a bit of maintenance. Both types have chambers that allow safe operation, and come in a completely enclosed casing. There are even small sizes that can suit a desktop.