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Best/Cheapest Way to Erase Hard Drives

Posted on 2011-09-29
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Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I have a lot of hard drives that I need to wipe and they are in about ten servers. I don't want to power on all of the servers and use software because they are non operational and it will take a long time. I am looking for a degaussing device or some kind of hardware solution that I can attach SCSI drives to that will wipe them. I have seen a lot of the solutions on sites like http://www.datadev.com/degausser-data-security-main.html but these are too expensive. These hard drives are going to be disposed of afterwords so the solution doesn't need to keep the drive intact, we just don't want to have to take a hammer or a drill to this many drives and would preferably be able to find some kind of device we can use in the future for hard drive disposal. What's the fastest and cheapest way of doing this?
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Question by:PGAdmins
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15 Comments
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:Nummmnut
ID: 36818944
There are services you can send the hard drives to that will shred the hard drives (literally).

As for a cheap way to do it... I have literally used a high end drill with a  large bit and drilled the drives and drilled several large pieces out.  (Note this was more for fun as we hated the server).

Now days I contract with with a hard drive shredder company that also shreds our documents.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:charlestasse
ID: 36818998
Find a company that has a break press, It will fold the drive in half :)
I was doing about 50 at a time when i had to dispose of about 5000 drives
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Author Comment

by:PGAdmins
ID: 36819021
Thank you for the suggestions about finding a company to outsource this to and I have seen those options as well and we do have one on the table that will do it for free. We would really rather find a device to do this in house though as we have sensitive information on these drives that we are disposing and we would rather be sure that the information is gone before the drives leave us. If we could find a hardware solution we would be able to do it ourselves in the future as well.
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:jamietoner
ID: 36852561
Hammer, drill, 45 acp(personal fav). These are good and fun ways to dipose of hdds.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 36869576
A drill / hammer / press meets absolutely no compliance requirements such as HIPPA.  Since you only have 10 disks, then take them to a data destruction firm, going rate is $10 range.  They have degaussers.  You can even rent a quality degausser.

There is some good software out there, but as you said, it takes time.  If you are looking for something for free, forget it.  
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:pravin_abhale11
ID: 36890137
hi

Degaussing machine would be the best option. it will be use in future also.

http://degausser.com/ 

http://www.degaussers.net/hard-drive-degaussers.asp?sub_category=HDD

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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 36890663
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:jamietoner
ID: 36891014
Thermite also works well with multiple drives.
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Author Comment

by:PGAdmins
ID: 36893136
A drill / hammer / press meets absolutely no compliance requirements such as HIPPA.  Since you only have 10 disks, then take them to a data destruction firm, going rate is $10 range.  They have degaussers.  You can even rent a quality degausser.

There is some good software out there, but as you said, it takes time.  If you are looking for something for free, forget it.

We have a lot more than 10 disks, we have 10 servers full of disks. We are not looking for something free. We are just looking for something that won't cost thousands of dollars.

I was hoping someone may know of a device we can buy for this and use in the future. The cheapest thing that I have found that would work for this and in the future is a degausser wand for around $500 but I was hoping someone else may know of something better.

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LVL 47

Accepted Solution

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David earned 500 total points
ID: 36893333
I have serious doubts that any hand-held degausser will give you the 6000+ continuous gauss you need to erase a HDD.   they'll create read errors, and do OK with tapes, but really, if you're not spending $10K minimum, you're not getting anything that will meet regulatory compliance.

So either send them out to a firm, or set up a system to do it in-house with software. The software is all in the few hundred dollar range, but you'll probably need some hand-holding if you have fibre channel, SCSI, ATA, SATA, (i.,e a good mix) of disks, because there is a lot to learn even to set up a dedicated system to do it efficiently.

I'd set up a dedicated system with JBOD enclosures and a few controllers, and then contact santools, or some other software maker. Certainly don't waste time on anything DOS or WINDOWS based.  You want something that runs under a unix variation so you can get creative like using multiple HBAs, creating scripts and such to get it semi-automated.  

Still no matter what, some disks will fail diagnostics which means software erasing won't help you, but the software will all let you know if a disk didn't erase, or you can't talk to it, but that means you'll still need to either just store the old disks onsite in a locked room in perpetuity, or send out the bad disks to a erasing company.

But a $500 hand-degausser?  Just don't see how it is possible. they just don't make them powerful enough for hard drives.  (Unless you found something that is just an incredible bargain).
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 36893568
Degauser will certainly generate read errors, it'll burn the head out before it damages the data on the disk giving a false sense that the data's gone.
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 36894392
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 36894788
Surprisingly, that device will NOT meet any compliance standards.   The pieces are way too big.  It would meet compliance back when hard drive capacity was measured in MB, but nothing this century.  With modern drives, basically any particle of media bigger than really course sand isn't big enough.

(You are supposed to destroy to the sector, so if you look at the arial density and how many GB they pack in a square inch, then you can do the math);
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Author Closing Comment

by:PGAdmins
ID: 36894919
Thank you for your help dlethe. I think the hand held degausser may not work that great so we probably will have to do something like what you suggested. Here is the link to the degausser to check it out though. http://www.datadev.com/degausser-model1100.html
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 36895333
I see the catch, you have to disassemble the HDD first, plus it takes 2 full minutes to CAREFULLY cover the entire surface.   On  modern multi-platter disks, you may have to repeat the process after taking the platters apart.   Quite time consuming and really no way to audit the process.  I'd send them out or buy software and do it the right way.  
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