Sep 10, 2021
One of the ways that customers use to completely destroy data from the storage mediums is through a process called degaussing. Degaussing removes data by rearranging the magnetic field on electronic media to completely erase it.
Degaussing Hard Drives
Hard drives and other electronic storage devices such as computer tapes store data within magnetic fields. Such storage mediums contain layers of magnetic material. By arranging the specific direction of these tiny magnetic materials, a drive can store millions of binary data bits. A hard drive retains this data only if the magnetic fields are kept in their precise order.
A degaussing machine subjects a hard drive to a high-intensity magnetic field, completely rearranging the entire magnetic structure of the drive. The degausser randomizes the patterns of magnetization by applying alternating fields of powerful magnetic amplitude. At the end of this process data on magnetic medium is irrecoverable.
Once a drive has been degaussed, it can no longer be used for storage.
8 Important Facts about Degaussing
Can data on a degaussed drive be recovered? No. Once a drive has been degaussed, it is impossible to retrieve the data.
Can a degaussed disk be used after degaussing? No. A degaussed drive is inoperable in any system. The magnetic erasure rearranges the magnetic field to such an extent that standard read heads are unable to find a magnetic reference point for tracking.
Does running an ordinary magnet over a hard drive accomplish degaussing? No. Standard magnets are not powerful enough to degauss a hard drive. Only an industrial degausser can guarantee the erasure of data.
Can any degausser erase data? No. In order to be completely effective, a degausser should emit magnetic strength that is two or three times greater than the magnetic intensity of the hard drive. Some commercially available degaussers are too weak to ensure that the data is erased. It is important to use an NSA-recommended degausser.
Why is degaussing important? Degaussing is the first step in completely destroying data. Due to regulations such as HIPAA, the GLB-Act, and NSA requirements, destroying sensitive data is required by law.
Does degaussing destroy other forms of tape storage (DLT, SDLT, 3480, AIT, etc.)? Yes. Degaussers emit such powerful magnetic fields that they can erase virtually any magnetic-based storage device.
Can degaussing destroy data on a USB drive? No because USB memory devices operate on solid state memory, which does not depend on the same magnetic structure of hard drive or tape storage.
Is degaussing the final step in data destruction? Although degaussing is a failsafe way of data erasure, the NSA recommends that media be physically destroyed / shredded after degaussing.
Data Erasure vs Degaussing
Degaussing and Data Erasure are methods for sanitizing the data storage media such as HDD, SSD, memory cards, etc. The primary purpose of media sanitization is to safeguard businesses & individual users from the risks of data breach & leakage.
|S No||Data Erasure||
|1||Suitable for all types of storage media including magnetic and non-magnetic storage. This process can erase data from hard drives, USB flash drives, SSD, flash memory cards, etc.||Only suitable for magnetic media, not suitable for flash memory based storage media including USB flash drives, solid state drives, and flash memory cards.|
|2||Software-enabled erasure can be scalable, as multiple devices can be erased simultaneously.||Degaussing is not scalable. Typically, a single drive is degaussed at a time.|
|3||More convenient and suitable for customers as software-based solution of data erasure can be performed by a common IT user.||Requires a certain proficiency for operating the degaussers. Example, loading of the drive, degaussing, etc.|
|4||Erased media are not destroyed and hence can be reused.||Degaussed media cannot be reused and need to be disposed.|
|5||Cost-effective, as data erasure solutions are available with pay-per-use value licensing. Also the devices and be reused and repurposed.||High acquisition and operating costs that can incur separately for media sanitization in different facilities. Degausser being a hardware will depreciate in value over time. Also assets needs to be purchased as they are destroyed after the process is complete.|
|6||Eco-friendly solution for media sanitization as data erasure produces zero e-waste.||Not eco-friendly, as degaussing generates a large amount of e-waste.|