Disposing of computer hard drives is a rather tricky matter. Unless the drive is all but destroyed or has all of the data contained on it magnetically wiped, it is perfectly feasible for an experienced technician to retrieve the data found on the drive and make it accessible again.
To avoid this, the best approach is the complete destruction of a hard drive so that none of its data remains to be accessed. As you may know, a hard drive contains a veritable treasure trove of valuable data that can be accessed provided you know how. This can potentially give anyone access to every file, email, password, and program that has ever been present on your computer while that hard drive was in use and I very much doubt that you want to give anyone who should happen to obtain your old drive access to every little bit of data that has ever been on that drive.
With the continuing advance of data recovery technology every year, it is nowhere near as paranoid an approach to thoroughly dispose of old hard drives in order to prevent your data from ending up in unsavory hands.
Tools of the Data Destruction trade
There are a wide variety of different tools that can now be used for destroying hard drives and making the data contained within truly inaccessible to anyone. The available tools for destroying your drives’ data are disk wiping software, degaussing, crushing, shredding, and disintegration.
Disk wiping software simply replaces the data on your drive with a pattern of irrelevant characters. This particular method will usually require multiple passes and is also an extremely time-consuming process to complete.
Crushing is the process of subjecting the drive to an extreme amount of pressure in order to crush it until it no longer functions. This method is relatively cheap and is best used for a small number of drives. It also does not remove the data and simply makes it much more difficult to gain access to due to the resulting deformation of the drive.
Degaussing is the process of passing the drive through a powerful magnetic field which results in the data found on the drive being wiped out. The main problem with this method is that it needs to generate a powerful enough magnetic field to wipe out a hard drive’s data. If the field is too weak then the data will remain and the entire process will have been a waste of time.
Shredding and disintegration are extremely similar to each other as both of them will rip the hard drive into tiny pieces in order to make it impossible to access the data on that drive. The main difference between the two methods is that the pieces that result from disintegration are much smaller than those that result from shredding.