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4 Common Methods to Destroy Hard Disk Drives Hard disk drives are often destroyed to make the stored information unreadable. There are proper and wrong ways to destroy hard disk drives. 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. While degaussing a hard disk can be effective, it isn’t always a foolproof method as demagnetization may fail to reach every platter or part. Thus, a two-step process of destruction is strongly 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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Just like office paper shredders that tear paper into shreds, hard disk drive shredders have strong blades that help shred hard disks into tiny strips such that it’s almost impossible to piece them 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 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 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. Mangling or 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/crushers destroy hard drives through the use of immense pressure that crushes the chassis and mangles the platter, leaving the hard drive pretty much unreadable. Crushers or manglers are sold either as hand or electric-powered. Hand-driven devices have a hydraulically-operated handle that is used to power a strong steel plate that squashes the disk and chassis. Some crushers may load 1-2 disks at a time, based on your company’s needs and don’t require much training to operate. Conversely, electrically-powered crushes may be dearer and can require a little maintenance and minimal physical interaction. Both varieties come with chambers that allow safe use and are fully enclosed in a casing. There are even smaller sizes that can be used on desktops.