How to erase a hard drive and reuse it for something else

September 5, 2018 | Views: 15994

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This post highlights different techniques to erase hard drives, each way fulfilling a particular purpose. Read on to know all these. Further, choose one among those to reuse hard drives for good.  

According to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Disposing, Reallocating, or Returning leased hard drives irresponsibly or improperly could land you into receiving a NOTICE OF VIOLATION.

  • IT Asset Disposition companies (ITAD/R2) are responsible for Data Privacy & Protection Obligations under various international laws & policies when disposing of, re-allocating, or returning hard drives. 
  • Enterprise and Government face challenges of Information security being compromised if sensitive and confidential business information goes into wrong hands while disposing or reallocating hard drives. 
  • In most of the cases, IT Solution Providers and Repair shops erase data by ‘Formatting’ or ‘Deleting’ data from hard drives, which may result in up to 100% data recovery. This means a secure data erasure solution is necessary to meet regulatory compliance obligations.
  • These are a few reasons for safe ‘hard drive data erasure’ coming into the picture. It is possible to erase hard drives using different methods like Degaussing, Shredding, Software Overwriting and maybe more.

Hard drive data eraser methods:

Briefly know about a few hard drive erasure methods below:

  • Hard Drive Degaussing is a process of erasing hard drives by eliminating or minimizing a remnant magnetic field from hard drives, which is achieved by using a reverse magnetic force.
  • Hard Drive Shredding is a process of physically destroying the hard drives by breaking these into small chunks or grinding.
  • Hard Drive Software Overwriting is the process of overwriting the data stored on hard drives with zeroes and ones that can be done in different ways.

Whenever there is a necessity to erase hard drives, the most asked question is the best way to do so.

Which to choose: Degaussing, Shredding, or Overwriting?

To decide between the three ways: Degaussing, Shredding, and Overwriting to erase HDD it is essential to know their effects on hard drives usage, data safety and security, and the environment. Analyzing these factors shall make it easy to choose accordingly. Below are some essential questionnaires for data erasure methods intended to know the after effects. Have a look!

Degaussing:

1.    Can hard drives be reused after degaussing?

  • After degaussing hard drives, these cannot be reused. The reason being, in addition to removing data or making it unreadable, degaussing also removes the Start up files. Consequently, the degaussed hard drives do not boot up.

2.    Does degaussing ensure hard drive data security?

  •  In case of improper degaussing, the stored data is not completely removed from the hard drives. This means, if hard drives are simply tossed and not degaussed thoroughly using proper pieces of machinery, data erasure is only partial. This allows for intrusion into the stored data, thereby, compromising data confidentiality. 

3.    Is degaussing safe for health and the environment?

  • According to a news blog on veritysystems.com, the World Health Organization states that there is no evidence to confirm the existence of health issues associated with exposure to the magnetic field used in degaussing.

NoteThe National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) has issued guidelines for degaussing. This signifies that degaussing has some or the other effect on the environment. 

Shredding:

  1. Can hard drives be reused after shredding?
    • Hard drives cannot be used after shredding because these are physically destroyed by breaking the hard drives into multiple pieces/chunks.
  2. Does shredding ensure hard drive data security?
    • If the hard drive components have been destroyed, data recovery is not possible. However, chances of data recovery cannot be denied if the shredded components are efficiently used. 
  3. Is shredding safe for health and the environment?
    • Shedding is not safe for our eco-system as it creates e-waste. 

Did you know if e-wastes containing a massive amount of lead or other hazardous metals are released into the environment, it puts the environment at risk?

Software Overwriting:

  1. Can hard drives be reused after overwriting?
    • Hard drives can be used after overwriting because the stored data is removed by simply overwriting the existing data with zeroes and ones and the storage device is just like a new one. 
  2. Does overwriting hard drives ensure data security?
    • Most of the times, Hard drive Overwriting ensures data security as there are a few chances of data recovery. 
  3. Is hard drive overwriting safe for health and the environment?
    • Hard drive overwriting is safe for our health and environment as it does not generate e-waste and it was not wrong to call it an eco-friendly method.

Overwriting: erasing hard drives in the best possible way

According to the questionnaires (based on reuse of hard drives, data security, and environment safety) above, it is good to choose Overwriting for data sanitization.

‘Overwriting’ hard drives provides the following advantages:

·         Hard drives can be reused. 

E-waste reuse facts and figures according to PFA: 

ü  Reuse of about one million laptops can save energy adequate to run approximately 3,657 U.S. homes for an entire year.

ü  Compared to disposal, recycling and then reusing IT assets including hard drives can create more than 296 jobs every year, for every 10,000 tons of computer waste processed.

ü  Maintaining IT assets including in organizations become cost-effective by reusing.

Note – These facts and figures showcase that there are several benefits to reusing hard drives.

  • Ensures data security in most of the cases with no-threat to online identity. The only clause is to use a result-oriented overwriting technique or tool. 
  • Does not create huge heaps of hazardous e-waste.
  • According to EPA: Globally, the amount of e-waste generation is expected to reach 49.8 million tons in 2018 with an annual 4-5 percent growth, consequently hampering our environment.

Way forward to erase hard drives by Overwriting

To erase hard drives by software overwriting, analyze several aspects such as security, efficiency, reliability, trustworthiness, and more. An example is BitRaser a certified data erasure software to erase data from hard drives completely and beyond recovery. BitRaser is known for the following:

  1. Erasure of hard drives over a network
  2. Support for internationally recognized erasure standards
  3. Erasure reports and certificates for Audit Trails
  4. Customized Certificates
  5. Multiple hard drives erasure
  6. Centrally managed database
  7. Pay Per Use
  8. No Expiry of License

By using this software to erase hard drives, organizations would abide by:

  • EU GDPR rules and meet statutory obligation aimed at maintaining data protection and prevent online identity theft while disposing of, reallocating, and reusing hard drives.
  • Rules, Regulations, and Policies of the United States Environmental Protection Agency aimed at protecting the environment across the globe.

Also, would maintain IT infrastructure at low cost by reusing the old hard drives. 

Conclusion

Shredding renders hard drives useless as well as contribute to increasing the amount of e-waste generation, the quantity of which is growing at an alarming rate. To reduce the amount of e-waste as you know its repercussions on human health and the environment, organizations can avoid Shredding. Degaussing renders hard drives useless due to reverse magnetic field affecting the storage ability; however, there are no facts and figures of its effects on our eco-system and whether it accounts for increased e-wastes or not. Therefore, BitRaser employing Overwriting technique is a better option to erase hard drives. 

Data Erasure Standards

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  1. Great source!

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