How to destroy your old hard drive – permanently!

Ever wondered if your old hard drive could fall into the wrong hands? Undoubtedly many of our discarded electronic devices and recycled for use elsewhere and you’d be amazed how many discarded hard drives are left in the devices. Indeed we purchase thousands of hard drives every year for spares and are able to recover data from over 80% of these!

Here at Data Recovery Specialists we have a mountain of obsolete and discarded hard drives. Whilst they are useful for spares, whenever we need to dispose of hard disk drives we granulate them. But can you trust software to permanently erase your data before you dispose of your electronic device?

The simple answer is no! We often recover data from devices that have been securely erased. That is not to say that all erasure utilities are reversible – they are not. However some only address the index or catalogue and fail to search deeper into the data areas. Indeed it has been claimed that to permanently remove all evidence of data from a hard drive, requires 35 passes. Bearing in mind that a low-level format only passes through the data once, is it that secure? We recently recovered data from a formatted hard drive that was instrumental in a high profile legal case. So what’s the alternative?

We would suggest no single plan of action, but a multiple attack to get rid of your data once and for all. By all means use a secure erasure program in the first instance. This will render your data unrecoverable in 80% of instances. But don’t forget to back it up first. Thereafter, physically destroy the hard disk drive. Once the platters have been shattered, no data recovery in the World will be able to help. Using a hammer and a screwdriver, punch a number of holes right through the chassis and out the other side.

Jim Cheoros, Technical Manager at Data Recovery Specialists says “Think about whether you actually need to destroy the data? Why not keep the hard drive as a backup? All you need to do is buy an external USB enclosure and hey presto – your internal hard drive is a portable backup drive”.