What Is Data Destruction? A Complete Guide

It is estimated that there are more than 40 trillion gigabytes of data in the world. That’s 40 Zettabytes.

With over 4.5 billion people on the planet using the internet, the amount of data that we’re collectively amassing will continue to rise at an exponential rate.

But if you have old and unused data in your business, what do you do with it?

You might be surprised to learn that deleting your data from your drive does not mean that the information no longer exists.

Data destruction is something that all businesses need to take seriously. But what is data destruction? And, how can your business safely get rid of unused and unwanted digital information?

In this article, we’ll discuss secure data destruction methods and why your business needs to implement them.

What Is Data Destruction?

When your digital devices reach the end of their useful lives, it is time to dispose of them. But there might be all kinds of sensitive data on the drives which could prove to be problematic if it got into the wrong hands.

So, before you dispose of a hard drive or another device that stores data, you might think that you can format or factory reset the device to wipe it clean?

While that does clear the drive for rewriting, there are still traces of your old data there. And, until the drive is written over, it is still possible for someone with the right skills and tools to access all of the information.

It is even possible to restore that which was previously stored deep in the recesses of the drive or device.

Data destruction is a process where all of the digital information is completely eradicated from a drive or device. This is something that needs to be carried out by a specialist.

Why Is Data Destruction Essential to My Business?

In your business, your data is quite often not just your data. You will no doubt be handling sensitive information that belongs to customers, vendors, and other business associates.

To ensure that you’re maintaining data protection regulations, you should ensure that once this data is no longer useful to you, that you have your drives destroyed securely.

If this data was found by cybercriminals, then it could constitute a major data breach which would be costly to your business.

Why Is Deleting and Reformating Not an Option?

Once a file is deleted from an electronic device, it might remove it from its folder, but it doesn’t destroy the data.

Reformatting your hard drive or device won’t remove the data either. All that you are doing is removing the existing file system and replacing it with a new one.

Overwriting Data

One option is to overwrite all of the data on a drive. In many cases, overwriting can help wiht the problem. However, if you are trying to completely bury sensitive data, then you’ll need to make multiple attempts at writing over the drive.

With this method, it may still be possible to find remnants of data if you have the right tools and knowledge.

This is referred to as a bit shadow.

A comparative example might be that if were to write on a note pad and tear out and dispose of the page you were writing on, you may still have left a liftable imprint under the page that could still be visible.

Overwriting is a common form of data destruction; however, it is time-consuming, and it’s not a fool-proof technique.


Degaussing uses high-powered magnets that disrupt the magnetic field of the drive. This disruption destroys the data on the drive in question. This is a quick and easy way of destroying data.

There are disadvantages to this type of data destruction. Firstly, by degaussing a hard drive, you will render it unusable.

Secondly, as you cannot use the drive, you cannot tell whether the data stored on the drive has actually all been destroyed. The only way to do this would be with an electron microscope which would make the process very costly.

What Is Hard Drive Shredding?

Hard drive shredding uses machines that will physically break a hard drive down into small pieces. The pieces that the drive will be shredded into will be too small to be put back together again.

Many companies offer this type of service. There are often two types of hard disk shredding services:

  • Off-Site Hard Disk Shredding – If you are able to ship your hard drives to a companies site, then your hard disk will be destroyed using specialist machinery. This is the more commonly found option. However, some people may have security concerns about leaving the drives out of their sight.
  • On-Site Hard Disk Shredding – On-site shredding may be available through some companies. This is a special service for businesses that want to be able to supervise the destruction of their data.

In addition to hard-disk shredding, many companies offer Solid-State Drive Shredding. With the growth in solid-state technologies, it is just as important to destroy data from this type of drive too.

Solid-state drives are much smaller anyway, and as a result, it is essential that this type of drive is broken down into the smallest of pieces to ensure that all of the data on them is completely destroyed and cannot be accessed.

You can view more about a company that offers data destruction services.

What Is Hard Drive Crushing?

Another option for data eradication is to have your hard drives crushed. Many companies will offer this service on-site or off-site.

Hard drive crushing involves your hard disk to be completely pressed under a weight until it breaks the platters. This will render the drive inaccessible.

Don’t Overlook Data Destruction in Your Business

As you will see from this article, it is essential that you take data destruction seriously in your business. If you handle customer and vendor data, then you’re not just putting your business at risk, you’re putting theirs at risk too.

Investing in professional data destruction methods is the only guaranteed way to ensure your data is safely eradicated.

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