6 Ineffective Ways to Dispose of Your Hard Drives

Disposing of your old computer? Need to destroy the data on your hard drive? Here are 6 disastrous ways NOT to ‘dispose’ of your hard drives. From smashing your device with a hammer to using a magnet to wipe your data, each method is wrong, leaves your business at serious risk of a data breach and should be avoided at all costs.

1. Erase or wipe data

Depending on the quality of software you use, wiping hard drives can be completely ineffectual. Beware of many of the free software packages you see on the internet which claim to wipe data. With today’s technology, data that has been ‘wiped’ from a hard drive can be retrieved within seconds!  Only Government-approved, CESG-certified wiping software is guaranteed to render all data totally unrecoverable.

2. Format the hard drive

In the same way that ‘wiped’ data can be recovered if not completed by a data destruction expert, specialist forensic software can also recover data after a full format. In a study by MIT, a considerable volume of confidential data including medical records and credit card numbers was still recoverable from hard disks that had been formatted. The conclusion? Formatting a hard drive does not completely erase it.

3. Smash the hard drive with a hammer

Whilst physical destruction of your hard drive with a hammer will work in theory, in reality this is not a practical or safe option in a corporate and professional environment.  All hard drives and data devices should be destroyed in the correct way by a professional data destruction company who will issue you with an official Certificate of Destruction for your records.

4. Do nothing

All companies have a legal obligation to comply with data protection laws and keep information that you have gathered from employees and customers secure. Don’t just throw your hard drives away and hope for the best. No matter how big or small your company, identity thieves are at large, waiting to steal your confidential data. Don’t let your company become their next victim!

5. Lock it away

Many workplaces stockpile hard drives on-site in store cupboards or unused workspaces. Even if your hard drives are locked away somewhere safe, the information still exists and could be retrieved if the equipment is used again or stolen.

6. Use a magnet

It’s often believed that placing a magnet on your hard drive will render it unusable – this may well have been true a few years ago, but today’s hard drives are more resistant than ever to magnets. Even larger, more powerful magnets are ineffective at wiping wiping data from hard drives.


The safest way to dispose of hard drives and permanently delete the information stored on them is to employ the services of a professional data destruction company. Your supplier should provide auditable processes and issue a Data Destruction Certificate after each service for your record-keeping.

SDR offers a range of data destruction solutions, both on-site at your premises or off-site at our secure depot. Contact us now to discuss your options: info@sdr.co.uk or 0800 037 7777

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