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4 Common Ways to do Away with Hard Disk Drives

Hard drives are sometimes destroyed to make the data stored unreadable. There are proper and wrong methods to destroy hard drives. Common ways to destroy hard drives include shredding, degaussing, disintegration, and crushing/mangling.


This is a term that’s usually mentioned during data wiping. It wipes away data by passing a hard disk drive through electromagnetic pulses or magnetic fields in a closed chamber. While degaussing a hard disk can be effective, it isn’t always a foolproof method as demagnetization may fail to reach every platter or part. Thus, a two-step process of destruction is strongly recommended. In addition, degaussing chambers are expensive and usually require special training, which makes it out of reach for small to mid-size firms.
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Just like a paper shredder that tears paper into shreds, a hard disk shredder has powerful blades that rip hard disks apart, such that it’s nearly impossible to piece the tiny shreds back together. While a hard disk shredder can destroy various drive types and sizes, from a few thousand to one at a go, it’s typically bulky, heavy and normally requires a reliable AC power source to operate. Based on the model, a shredder can destroy hard disk drives, PDAs, smartphones, electronic organizers as well as other storage devices. They’re certainly unsuitable for office use.


Disintegrators are normally used by companies that handle highly classified data and use a rotary knife as well as conveyor belt to rip hard drives into unrecognizable bits that cannot be joined back together. While very efficient, disintegrators are heavy and bulky too, and need special reliable AC power supply to operate. They may also need ventilation outside the premises, which is very likely under the control of federal, state or local authorities. Similar to shredders, disintegrators are certainly not suitable for office use.


This technique is thought to be one of the most economical for small to mid-size organizations that have no resources to lease or buy costly shredding or degaussing equipment.

Crushers/manglers destroy hard disks by using enormous pressure that mangles the platter and crushes the chassis, rendering the hard disk practically unreadable. Crushers/manglers are available either as manually or electrically-powered.

Hand-driven devices have a hydraulically-operated handle that is used to power a strong steel plate that squashes the disk and chassis. Some manglers can be loaded with up to two disks at a time, based on your organization’s needs and require less training to operate. Conversely, electrically-powered crushes may be dearer and can require a little maintenance and minimal physical interaction. Both varieties are completely enclosed in a casing and have chambers that allow safe use. There are also small sizes that can be operated on a desktop.