Hard drive shredding, hard disk destruction, hard drive erasure – whatever you want to call it, is a serious business that demands precision and understanding. Whether you’re an individual or a business or even a government agency, there’s no doubt that sooner or later, you’ll have to send your old computer off into the ether for recycling purposes.
In 2020 alone, roughly 4 billion PCs were sold worldwide. That means over 400 million computers will become obsolete every year! While most people think their data is entirely safe from being accessed once dumped into landfill sites, this is not true.
With advances in modern technology costing as little as $100, it has never been easier for criminals to access your sensitive data. The safest way to ensure that you’re protecting your data is by investing in a hard drive shredder.
A thorough understanding of what hard drive shredding entails is crucial to ensuring that the procedure is done safely and correctly. Since this practice has become widespread, many individuals and businesses have been caught out with inexperienced workers who don’t understand how much power these machines can put out.
By not following the steps closely enough, they’ve caused irreparable damage to older models of computers and rendered them completely unusable – costing their business or home huge amounts of money!
This article aims to provide you with all the necessary information for correct hard drive destruction and some others, such as increased levels of security and peace of mind.
What is Hard Drive Shredding?
Hard drive shredding is an activity in which the user dismantles a hard drive and tears it apart layer by layer until there’s nothing left but dust (and hopefully 1s and 0s). This method ensures that all data stored inside has been destroyed and made impossible to read.
Even with high-tech machines, it’s tough to retrieve data from a shredded drive because everything is torn into such small particles that hackers won’t put it back together again. There are other methods such as degaussing, but this process simply demagnetizes your hard drives – not shredding them like you would with a machine.
How Do You Know If Your Hard Drive Needs to be Shredded?
You can find out if your hard drive requires shredding by following these easy steps:
- If you’re sending the drive away for recycling, look for a label that says ‘PCB’ or ‘Printed Circuit Board.’ The PCB holds all the essential components (CPU, RAM, etc.), and without it, your old computer will not function normally.
- If there isn’t any label saying PCB on the outside of your hard drive, check the size. Generally speaking, desktop PCs have larger HDDs than laptops, so it may well be an SSD if yours is abnormally small. These drives are tough to destroy, so they usually require specialist techniques such as degaussing.
- Another way to tell if your hard drive needs shredding is by checking its make and model. Old HDD’s tend to be very heavy (and oversized), while modern ones are incredibly light and small (like credit cards).
- Lastly, try doing a quick Google search for your brand name and model number. If there’s already somebody selling second-hand versions of your product, chances are it isn’t safe to send off for recycling! On the other hand, if you can’t find anything about your drive online, then it’s time to shred.
Benefits of Hard Drive Shredding
There are many benefits to getting rid of old computer parts such as:
Preventing opportunistic crime: One of the main reasons people like to destroy their hard drives is that it prevents opportunistic criminals from accessing sensitive or personal information.
Usually, they’ll sell appliances and gadgets on websites like eBay for cash, but unfortunately, some will also scrap these items and steal whatever they possibly can, which could include passwords, credit card details, and even bank account numbers!
All this information in the wrong hands could be deadly, so disposing of old technology is crucial to preventing identity theft.
Ensuring data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands: In similar to preventing opportunistic crime, hard drive shredding is essential in protecting the environment.
Simply going ahead and recycling all your electronic devices with a specialist company is a great start, but if somebody finds a way into your computer, then there’s always a chance that they’ll be able to access information from previous users.
This could include anything from photos taken on old cameras to software preferences with valuable business information. An excellent example of this happened in 2012 when 300+ Syrian activists had their Gmail accounts hacked after recycling their computers.
Once hackers got hold of their personal information, it was only a matter of time before Bashar al-Assad’s regime tracked them down and assassinated them. For this reason, it’s essential to ensure that you’ve got rid of all your data before recycling your electronics.
How Do You Shred A Hard Drive?
There are two main ways to get rid of old hard drives – physical Shredding and degaussing. Both methods are highly effective, but physical shredders can also be used for other devices such as old mobile phones, DVDs, credit cards, etc. In comparison, degaussers are generally only suitable for computer-related products.
Physical Shredding: Before choosing a specific machine, you need to know what kind of drive you’re dealing with because the process is slightly different depending on whether it’s an SSD or HDD. SSDs are Solid State Drives commonly found in newer laptops because they’re much smaller and lighter than traditional hard drives.
Their downside, however, is that they’re complicated to destroy, which has led many companies to offer specialist services for this purpose. On the other hand, traditional HDDs are much easier to destroy, but a physical shredder isn’t quite as efficient at destroying every last piece.
Here’s how it works:
1 . Unplug the drive from your computer and remove any connecting wires so you can lay it flat on a table or other flat surfaces.
2 . Position the machine over the device and lower the protective lid so you can start feeding your hard drive through it bit by bit. Do not push anything inside the machine because this will likely jam it up completely!
3 . Wait until the shredded remains come out of the other side, and then turn off your machine.
4 . If you plan on using your old hard drive for anything in the future, remember to remove any leftover pieces with a magnet or screwdriver; otherwise, they could cause serious damage to your next computer!
Degaussing: When it comes to degaussers, two different kinds work in opposite ways: one is designed for rotating drives while the other is ideal for older SSHD drives. There are also some machines suitable for both types, but it’s still worth checking beforehand because not all degaussing services offer take-back programs like physical shredders.
If that’s the case, take time to read reviews online before giving them your business.
1 . Check the machine’s specifications before bringing it home to ensure it’s suitable for your hard drive. If the service only offers degausses for rotating drives, don’t waste your time because this method is very slow and expensive!
2 . Now that you know everything works, carefully remove the device from its packaging and plug-in any connecting wires so you can begin running tests. Don’t forget to use a power strip with an on/off switch so you won’t have to unplug and replug all of your cords every single time.
3 . Make notes about which wires connect where and then slowly begin feeding the drive-through while watching for uneven lumps or bumps to come out. If your device gets stuck or you notice sparks coming from the machine, turn it off immediately and contact a professional for help.
4 . Once you’ve fed in your entire drive, switch on the degausser to complete the process, then carefully take the remnants out with a magnet or screwdriver to avoid cutting yourself. Now that’s done, find a way to close up any remaining holes before adding recycled-safe tape just in case.