Media Destruction Requires More than Magnets

A 2012 episode of the popular series Breaking Bad displayed one questionable feat of technological prowess on the part of the high school science teacher-turned-meth-dealer, who had an urgent personal interest in assuring media destruction on an incriminating laptop hard drive.
The character Walter White used a super magnet in a junkyard to erase a notebook hard drive inside a car. He wanted to destroy a video file showing him and his sidekick Jesse manufacturing meth. It worked on TV, but probably wouldn’t in real life.
Data security experts recognize that erasing hard drives with a magnet can be a tricky and unreliable process, even for the older IDE and especially for the newer SATA drives. Erasing a hard drive in the rigged, yet spectacular way demonstrated on that popular TV show probably wouldn’t work. Here’s why:
  • Hard drives now require extremely powerful magnets to wipe them clean.
  • Hard drive vaults are typically constructed from magnetic metal and have a shielding effect that partly blocks any magnetic interference from reaching the data.
  • In modern hard drives with today’s perpendicular data-writing to the HDD spinning platters, simply getting at the hard drive to erase it would be problematical.
The problem is compounded when it comes to solid-state drives: they are not magnetic and magnetic degaussing won’t erase them. A better, but less dramatic solution for Walter would have been to toss the laptop into one of those machines that crushes a junked car into a four-foot-square lump of compressed steel, aluminum in plastic.
Along those lines, in one amusing article published by PC Pro a few years ago, the author Mike Jennings sets forth some imaginative suggestions:
  • Just pound the hard drive with a hammer. Somewhat of a straightforward solution, it could be a bit rough on both the hard surface as well as the arm — be sure to wear safety glasses.
  • Throw the hard drive into an electric log splitter.
  • Use heat — a blowtorch, for example
  • Attach a thermite charge for an instant 2,500-degree application of heat.
On the other hand, if you’re not into dealing with OSHA health and safety violations and you’re not running an industrial operation, you’re probably more interested in more reliable and cleaner hard drive destruction methods.
That’s where we come in. Our business is about providing you with the best hard drive destruction equipment that not only passes OSHA muster but also meets NSA specs in making your hard drives, CDs, USBs and DVDs totally unreadable. Want to learn more? Contact us.

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