The Data Destruction Process - Hard Drives

The hard drive and data destruction process involves destroying confidential information by physically shredding the host digital media such as hard drives, SSDs and backup tapes.  There are three main data destruction techniques which include wiping, degaussing and physically shredding digital media.  The appropriate manner, or technique, in which data is destroyed depends on the type of media to be destroyed as well as the company’s security protocols and guideline requirements.

Step #1: On-site so you can Witness and Verify.

Office storage with old IT equipment
Hard drive shredding in Pasadena, CA

Hard drives, SSDs and/or backup tapes are moved from your data center to our shredding truck for processing.  This practice allows you to witness and verify that drives have been recorded and truly been destroyed.

Step #2: Scan and Inventory for Certificate of Destruction.

Pulling hard drives from storage units
Scanning serial numbers for NIST 800-88 Compliant Data Destruction

Hard drives pulled from servers, storage arrays and computers are staged into our scanning area.  Once collected, drives are scanned and inventoried for a detailed Certificate of Destruction report.

Step #3 Physically Shred Drives.

Hard drives are then shredded at a rate of 500 PC drives per hour.  Shredding hard drives for data destruction – as apposed to drilling, hole punching or bending – satisfies NIST 800-88 and all other data privacy laws such as HIPAA. 

shredded hard drives

Step #4: Certificate of Destruction


Our Certificate of Destruction details quantity  and type of digital destroyed, serial number, location,  and company personnel that witness the process.

Physical destruction is an effective form for destroying data on all forms of digital media.  Deguassing is a effective technique for magnetic media such as hard drives and backup tape, but will not work on flash memory such as SSDs or cell phones.  We have focused this article on physically destroying digital media through shredding.

Data Destruction Process Summary

In summary, a secure data destruction process should follow the four steps above.  The key point here is that your data destruction vendor has allowed you to witness and verify that your hard drives truly been destroyed.  The unbroken chain-of-custody should give your company confidence that confidential information will not be compromised.