The Dos and Don'ts of Destroying a Hard Drive Properly
With so much digital data flowing around us at all times, it's important to make sure that yours is secure. As technology develops, so too do ways to exploit it. After all, if someone wants your SSN, banking info or other personal data, they aren't breaking into your file cabinets or safe in the dead of night to get it. No, they'd much prefer hacking that info remotely. This is why it's so important to know how to destroy a hard drive properly.
How Common Are Data Breaches?
Forbes reported last year that more than 4.1 billion records were exposed in just the first 6 months of 2019. For comparison, around 5 billion records were exposed in all of 2018. Businesses accounted for 84.6% of those exposed records, with the average breach costing a business $3.92 million including potential fines after failure to report the breach and other legal expenses.
How NOT to Destroy a Hard Drive
- Reformatting. Reformatting your hard drive, in a nutshell, is preparing a drive for everyday use. The process erases all local files and restores your drive to a "blank slate" so to speak. However, because of the way (re)formatting works, the "erased" data is still recoverable on a hard drive after the fact. All that's needed is the right software and some free time.
- Magnets. How do they work? Well, they don't. Not to fully destroy hard drive data, at least. You've probably heard the advice before: keep magnets away from hard drives because they can erase data. This advice may have been true in theory, but it never pertained to household magnets. The theory is that the magnetic spinning disk, called a platter, of a HDD is disrupted and therefore unable to write and record data. However, the strength it would take to erase a HDD is simply not found in run-of-the-mill fridge magnets -- it would take MRI levels of magnet strength. There has been some anecdotal evidence of people using neodymium magnets to these ends, but they merely render the HDD unusable and do NOT destroy data, meaning it could still be recoverable by somebody who knows what they're doing. Plus, SSDs (solid state drives) are on the rise to replace HDDs and they don't even have moving parts to disrupt.
- Microwave. DO NOT DO THIS! Microwaving a HDD is one of the most ineffective ways to destroy data, but it WILL be effective in starting a house fire. It will also cause irreparable harm...to the microwave oven. And sure, it may render the HDD unusable, but so long as the platter is intact (which a microwave will probably not affect), data can still be recovered from it.
- Water. Dunking a HDD under water is, again, a great way to render it unusable. But generally speaking, hard drives are well sealed and prevent water from getting into the main components. Even if water DOES get in, it will not affect the magnetically stored data on the platter and can eventually be recovered.
How to Destroy a Hard Drive Properly
If you want to have peace of mind knowing your data is fully wiped and scrubbed permanently from the face of the earth, then call in professionals like R4 Services. We are discreet, secure and professional. We'll either come to you to collect and transport the materials or you can stop by our facility. We confidentially shred all hard drives under the supervision of insured employees and issue a certificate of destruction upon completion. Our brand-new, state-of-the-art hard drive shredder can handle any number of drives you throw at it and will instantly reduce any drive to unrecognizable, metal bits. We're able to work with you in order to assist your organization in its compliance requirements.
For discreet and proper hard drive destruction, get in touch today.