Published under Category : Tape Storage

Degaussing vs shredding/destruction which one should you choose

Securing the destruction of data is essential to avoid potential data breaches from disposed media. Two primary methods for data destruction exist: degaussing and shredding, also referred to as physical destruction. We'll explore the key differences, benefits, drawbacks, and features of each method to assist you in making a well-informed decision.

Initially, it's important to address the re-usability of media post-destruction. Both degaussing and shredding render the media inoperative. Degaussing not only deletes the data but also erases crucial low-level formats, making the media non-functional. Except a few old tapes like DDS , which may be reused after degaussing, all the other media becomes unusable after sensitization.  If media reuse is your goal, consider multi-pass writing techniques over degaussing or destruction.

Now, let's examine the strengths of each method

The Benefits of Degaussing over Destruction

Degaussing exposes magnetic storage devices to a strong magnetic field, permanently erasing all data. Since physical force is not used, it has a few advantages
  • Efficiency: Degaussing erases devices quickly, in seconds, without noise.
  • Environmental Impact: This method doesn't produce physical waste, allowing for the recycling of drives for their rare earth materials.
  • Cost Savings: Degaussing equipment is more affordable to purchase and run, thanks to its lower power consumption.
  • Maintenance: Degaussers, having no moving parts, require no maintenance.
  • Portability: Degaussing devices are easy to move and use in various locations.

Shredding/Physical Destruction Advantages Over Degaussing

Shredding physically destroys storage media, reducing it to small fragments and rendering data recovery unfeasible. It is suitable for a broad array of devices, including hard drives, SSDs, USBs, and optical media. A few advantages are
  • Universality: Shredding can eliminate all types of storage media, including gadgets like mobile phones and memory cards.
  • Proof of Destruction: Shredding provides physical evidence of destruction, allowing for the inspection of the media's remnants. This is a clear advantage over degaussing, which leaves the media's exterior unchanged, making the shredding process's outcome visibly confirmable.

Which is more secure for magnetic media : Degaussing or Shredding

Both methods ensure that data is irrecoverably erased, offering similar levels of security. Although shredding might appear more secure due to the visual evidence of destruction, degaussing is just as effective for magnetic media. Its straightforwardness, efficiency, and security level make it a preferred option for many organizations working with magnetic media.

There is no security advantage in choosing one method over another.

Should I degauss or Shred ? Choosing the Right Method

Since both methods offer equal levels of security, the choice between them hinges not on security but on factors like cost and ease of use.

The table below guides you on which method to choose based on which media you want to sanitize

  • If you have only solid state and optical media then the only option is to go with shredding. There are entry level shredders that shred CD,DVD, Flash, SSD and phones/tablets etc
  • If you have only magnetic media then you can choose between shredding and degaussing, but degaussing is often favored for its cost-effectiveness, portability, and zero maintenance. Shredders designed for hard drives are substantially more expensive and larger.
  • If you have optical, solid state and magnetic media then the most pratical approach is to use 2 devices - a degausser for magnetic media and a simple shredder for optical and flash media. Having these 2 is more cost-efficient than investing in a bulky shredder that can also handle hard drives.

We hope this information simplifies your decision-making process between the two methods. If you require degaussing or destruction services, or equipment, please reach out to us, and we will suggest the most suitable method for your needs.


About Author : Akash Jain

I have worked in Data Storage Industry since 1998. I loves Technology and write often about NAS, Hard drives, Tapes and Flash technologies

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