Organizations often employ only two methods to remove data from hard drives: software erasure programs and degaussing equipment.
Software Erasure Programs
The most common method to remove data from hard drives is software erasure programs, in which blank data is recorded seven times over the recorded surface of a hard drive. Despite the user control offered with these programs, this solution still has several fundamental issues:
·Defective hard drives cannot be erased.
·One drive can take more than 24 hours to erase.
·The process is subject to human error – “Was that the sixth overwrite or the seventh?”
·It’s expensive – constant improvements in data recovery technology counteracts the viability of erasure programs, leading to expensive patches.
·There is no guarantee the original data will be completely erased.
Another solution is degaussing equipment, which applies a strong magnetic field to tapes and hard drives, effectively destroying most – if not all – recorded material.
Like software-based solutions, degaussing equipment can be used on-site, enabling user flexibility, but unlike software-based solutions, is a lot more time effective: each drive takes only a minute to erase.
However, degaussing equipment has its own set of challenges when it comes to erasing electronic data:
·Capital cost of equipment purchase. Because magnetic media varies, degaussing equipment must be tailored to meet the needs of each drive.
Users must absorb additional costs to provide training to operate the machines, which must be shielded from other magnetically sensitive devices.