From financial records and personal photos to search history and documents, the hard drive inside your computer contains a large amount of confidential data. Before donating or recycling old PCs and laptops, it’s very important to remove the hard drive and completely destroy it; otherwise, cybercriminals, hackers and identity thieves can recover and misuse your sensitive data. Simply wiping out the equipment with a program or overwriting old files isn’t enough to protect your organization’s information security.

The Best Way to Destroy a Hard Drive

The most effective way to destroy the electronic data on your hard drive is through the process of hard drive shredding. This type of destruction method physically destroys the hard drive using a heavy-duty shredding machine that is specifically built for electronic media. It works by completely grinding up and destroying every single part of a hard drive into small shards, rendering all sections and tracts unreadable.

With this form of shredding, you’ll have absolute confidence that any private data on the hard drive can never be recovered or stolen. It also ensures your organization remains compliant with government privacy laws and avoids hefty fines for improper disposal.

Other (Less Effective) Hard Drive Destruction Methods

A quick search of the internet will reveal many resourceful solutions for destroying an old hard drive, but not all methods are created equal. Some can be noisy, messy and dangerous, while many DIY techniques will leave parts of the drive menu intact, making your personal information easy to recover and highly vulnerable to theft.

Here are some commonly used methods that you should reconsider:

Hammer

Hard drives are made from materials, such as glass, ceramic or aluminum, which are coated with a thin layer of metal. These platters will easily shatter when hit with a hammer to render the device unusable. However, there is a strong chance that the hard drive’s data can be completely reconstructed, even when smashed with a hammer.

Drill or Screwdriver

A high-power drill, a drill press or a screwdriver and screws can put holes into the casing and platter of a hard drive. However, it is possible to break the drill bit or get injured from pieces of flying glass, metal or ceramic. The risk isn’t worth the reward since it is possible to retrieve erased data on a computer hard drive after the components have been physically destroyed by drilling.

Fire

Fire will destroy a hard drive by melting the platter material inside, but it’s not a reliable form of destruction. Burning a device with a blow torch or incinerator will release toxic fumes into the atmosphere, which could be harmful to your health. A standard blow torch may also not generate enough heat to destroy the hard drive’s components, leaving your personal information at risk.

Force

Before donating or recycling an old computer, you might consider running it over with a vehicle or destroying a laptop hard drive using a hydraulic press. However, this technique isn’t the best way to destroy the platters since it doesn’t fully crush the drive into small, unreadable pieces.

Acid

Acid will destroy a hard drive by dissolving the disk’s motor and casing and it will strip the data from the platters. However, acid is extremely corrosive and can burn your skin and contaminate soil when being disposed of. There are also no guarantees that it will permanently remove, erase or wipe out information so it can never be restored.

Scratching

You might be tempted to use screws or sharp objects to scratch the platters of a hard drive, but this method won’t fully erase the data or destroy the drives. With the right tools and computer knowledge, scratched hard drives are still very much recoverable, putting your information security at risk.

Magnets

Degaussing a hard drive by placing a magnet on the platters can remove or corrupt data, but you’ll need an extremely powerful magnet for it to be effective. Even if the hard drive appears to no longer work, that doesn’t mean that the data has been erased. It could be recovered using a data retrieval program by cybercriminals or identity thieves.

Water

Wiping out a hard drive by submerging it in water could cause the electronics within the device to short out, but it won’t remove or make the stored data disappear. Once the hard drive dries out, the information contained within the platters can be retrieved and used to steal your identity.

Securely Destroy Your Hard Drive Devices with Blue-Pencil

You can rest assured knowing that your electronic media is securely shredded and properly disposed of with Blue-Pencil’s on-site, high-speed hard drive shredding services. Our state-of-the-art, professional-grade equipment uses cross-cut shredders, which instantly destroy a hard drive to 5/8-inch pieces to make data recovery 100% impossible. This method is also in accordance with NAID AAA certification regulations.

Once your service is complete, your company will receive an official Certificate of Destruction with a scanned serial number for each hard drive that was destroyed. All shredded hard drive material will then be sent to a facility for separation and environmental disposal. You’ll never have to worry about your computer hard drives and confidential data ending up in the landfill or the wrong hands.

To learn more about our on-site hard drive destruction service, please contact our customer service team at Blue-Pencil for a free quote.

At this time, we continue to provide our customers with shredding, storage and scanning services. Read our COVID-19 Position Statement for complete details.