Options for Physical Destruction of Storage Media

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Options for Physical Destruction of Storage Media

Physical Destruction Magnetic/Rotational Media and Solid State Media

Hard drive crushers use powerful force applied to the drive chassis to buckle and/or pierce it. The internal platters and read/ write heads of HDDs are damaged beyond reasonable recovery methods, making the drive inoperable. For solid state drives (SSDs) every chip must be damaged so a special crusher with multiple “pins” is required.

Hard drive shredders operate the same way as paper shredders but with larger, more rugged cutting heads. Drives enter the cutting mechanism where they are literally ripped to shreds. The result is a pile of twisted metal that barely resembles a hard drive. For solid state drives, a much smaller waste particle is required: 0.375″ for CUI/PII drives and 2mm for classified drives.

For unclassified magnetic media, a crusher or shredder used on it’s own is acceptable. Damage to drives is so significant, it’s virtually impossible for any person or entity, except those with the most extensive resources, to recover data. However, for classified magnetic media or for an added measure of security, it is necessary to degauss drives prior to physical destruction. This two step approach is mandated by the DoD for classified data.

Destroy More than Just HDDs and SSDs

Crushers crush, and shredders shred. They don’t discriminate based on what they are fed. So, they can be used for other media like solid state drives, optical media, MP3 players, touch pads, e-readers, cell phones, PDAs, PC boards and more.

Crusher or Shredder… Which is Right for You?

Typically crushers are used in lower volume applications, 100 drives per day or less (a quality hard drive crusher needs about 8-10 seconds to crush a drive). When volumes are much greater, a shredder makes more sense. These larger machines (about the size of a washer and dryer) can be fed faster and operated continuously for long periods of time. Small hard drive shredders destroy up to 500 drives per hour, while larger machines can shred up to 3,500 drives per hour.

The Impact of Hard Drive Type on Thruput

Hard drives come in various sizes and materials of construction. Smaller hard drives found in laptop computers are easier to destroy than standard drives found in personal computers or servers. Both crushers and shredders can destroy any size drive, but throughput is higher for smaller drives. For example, a crusher will destroy one personal computer hard drive in eight seconds. However, the same crusher can destroy up to six notebook computer drives stacked on top of each other, in the same amount of time. Similarly, hard drive shredders work faster with smaller drives and take a bit longer to chew through larger drives. Typically throughput rates are higher for magnetic hard drive shredders and lower for solid state drive shredders due to the smaller end particle size requirements.

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