Disposing Of Hard Drives The Right Way

There’s some confusion in the world regarding what to do with an old hard drive, usb stick, or other data storage device, once it reaches the end of its life. Doing the wrong thing can result in some nasty consequences for yourself and the environment. There is only one right way to get rid of them, and that’s to have them destroyed.

hard drive being destroyed

Why Hard Drive Destruction

The Risks To You

For starters, the risks to your personal data is a real consideration you must consider. Most people operate under the assumption that deleting their data is enough to destroy it. Unfortunately this is not the case, to understand why we need to understand how it is the saving and deleting of data works.

When you create a new file, either through downloading or making a new document for example, the hard drive allocates the required space it needs, and flags it as in use. This prevents new data from being accidentally written on top of something that is already there. Now comes the time when you want to delete it, so you select the file and hit the delete key. When the file disappears, it’s not actually gone, the file that disappears is merely the directory listing pointing to the datas location. What does happen is the data is now flagged as being able to be overwritten, so eventually as new data is made something will get placed over it, but until then the data just sits there.

This leaves it vulnerable to recovery, have you noticed that you can recover a deleted file from the recycle bin for example? Even when deleted from there fragments of data can remain behind. Some one with time and the right software can often recover large portions of data from your device. If that data happened to be your banking information, or personal details, well, you can see the problems there.

The Risks To Environment

While your biggest concern is going to be yourself, improper hard drive disposal also has harmful effects to nature. Most electronics have heavy metals in their components  which are required for their operation. While these are normally harmless just being inside your computer, should they be allowed to rot outside, they will leak toxic chemicals.

These chemicals will for their way into the environment through the soil, air, and water supplies. From there ingestion by plants and animals will occur, and then eventually ingestion by people. Ingesting these chemicals will lead to severe health problems over time.

Avoiding The Risks

The only and best way to avoid the risks to seek out professional hard drive destruction services. By doing so, your hard drives and other data storage devices will be completely destroyed physically. This complete destruction ensures no data has survived that could be recovered. Afterwards the destroyed material is sent for proper recycling into new products to reduce waste and keep harmful material out of landfills. 

There really is only one option for proper disposal of hard drives, make sure you’re not taking unnecessary risks.