Published under Category : Tape Storage

How to choose a Degausser - Key factors to consider

The process of Media Sanitization involves permanently erasing all information on storage media, such as HDDs, SSDs, and magnetic tapes, before they are discarded. Degaussing is one of the most popular ways to achieve this( other options being physical destruction and overwriting the user-accessible area.)

There are multiple vendors in the market with a range of degaussers , making it challenging to choose the right one. This guide aims to simplify the selection process by outlining some of the major considerations for degaussers and providing a short comparison matrix of popular degaussers

Degaussing over Overwriting /Destruction

There are 3 ways to destroy data on on your storage media - Physically destroying the Media itself ( Physical destruction), Erasing information with a strong magnetic field ( Degaussing) or Rewriting multiple times till all magnetic remainance of original data is overwritten ( overwriting). Degaussing is the most popular out of these 3 .

Degaussing is preferred over physical destruction and overwriting due to its ease of use, speed, and lack of noise and debris. There are no cutting blades, hydraulics or other moving parts like destroyers making a degausser more reliable.

It is also more efficient at erasing inaccessible areas, such as firmware caches, than overwriting the media, and degaussing is the fastest method compared to other 2.

While all sell all 3 devices , most of our clients consider degaussers for their cost-effectiveness and convenience.

Shortcoming of Degaussers

However, there are two main shortcomings of degaussers.

First, they can only sanitize magnetic media and are not effective on SSDs and flash drives. For destroyer flash, all the vendors offer a physical destruction device , except pro-devices who have a newer device that produces a high pulse electric field that breaks the SSD chips circuit. This is equivalent to degaussing an SSD.

Second shortcoming of degaussers is that degaussing destroys the media, making it unusable for future purposes, similar to physical destruction.

Key considerations for choosing a degausser

When selecting a degausser, some key factors to consider include the strength of the magnetic field, how the media is handled, the speed of erasure, whether it provides auditing and reporting software, and if it has been evaluated by security agencies like NSA or AQAP. Lets look at all of these individually

Key factor 1 Magnetic Field of Degausser

The strength of the magnetic field generated by a degaussing device will determine how effective it is at erasing the data on the media. Generally, the stronger the magnetic field, the more effective the degaussing device will be. Magnetic Flux density is measuered in Gauss or Tesla ( 1 Tesla = 10,000 Gauss). Newer drives have higher Magnetic Coercivity so the newer Degaussers apply a higher strength magnetic field.

Choose a degausser with higher magnetic flux density

Key Factor 2 Handling of Media to be Degaussed

There are 2 kinds of degaussers - one in which you have to place the media in chamber and then close the chamber to start degaussing (Drawer Degausser ) and the other in which you put the media in the media slot and it comes out of exist slot after degaussing ( Continuous Feed Degausser)

Entry level degaussers are always Drawer type and since you need to open and close the drawer they are slower. Continous Feed are faster.

Choose Continous feed if you need to degauss a lot of media

Key Factor 3 : Speed of degaussing

Speed of Erasure is a key factor if you have many drives to erase. Usually measured in Seconds, Degaussing Speed is the sum of the charge time and discharge time. Its not very important but if you have many drives to degauss you would consider a Continous Feed Degausser with shorter degauss cycle time.

Choose high speed degausser if you need to degauss a lot of media or provide degaussing service

Key Factor 4 : Auditing and reporting Software after media is degaussed

A Growing number of clients today ask for a report that can generate a report of the media degaussed. Most of the vendors will have a few models with a computer interface to generate a report and all the models won't have the report generation. Pro-Devices are an exception that every degausser they have works with a mobile app which is capable of generating a degaussing report. One of the models even has an internal camera.

if you need the audit report, look for a degausser that provides this functionality because not all the models from a vendor would have this .

Look for a degausser that provides you with a native reporting functionality. You may not need it today, but automatic reporting saves a lot of time. 

Key Factor 5 : Degausser evaluation by Security Agencies

Every Vendor will publish the list of standards THEY comply with (Like NIST, PCI and HIPAA). But some Degaussers are evaluated and listed by these Security agencies like NSA ( National Security Agency , USA) or AQAP certification ( NATO requirement). Such Degaussers are not endorsed by these agencies but evaluated and passed the requirements. Every vendor sends just a few models for the evaluation so look for “NSA Listed” or “AQAP compliant” devices if your organization has this requirement.

Look at your client requirement, NSA listed degaussers are more expensive, so if they don't ask for NSA listed, quote for AQAP compliant.

Here is a list of popular degaussers, compared by their core features

Magnetic Flux Density( Gauss) Media Handling Degaussing Time (Seconds) Report Generation Security Agency Listed ?
Pro-Devices(Poland) Degaussers
Prodevices ASM120 Basic up to 11000 Drawer 30 Yes with dedicated MobileApp included AQAP NATO approved
Prodevices ASM120 Professional up to 11000 Drawer 30 Yes with dedicated MobileApp included AQAP NATO approved
Prodevices ASM240 Professional up to 22000 continuous Feed 5 Yes with dedicated MobileApp included AQAP NATO approved
Prodevices ASM240 PLUS up to 22000 continuous Feed 5 Yes with dedicated MobileApp included and built in camera AQAP NATO approved
Garner (USA) Degaussers
Garner TS1XT 20000 Drawer 15 Optional Purchase (Ironclad) NSA Listed
Garner HD3XTL 10000 continuous Feed 3 Optional Purchase (Ironclad) -
Garner TS-4XT 40000 Drawer 28 Optional Purchase (Ironclad) -
Garner HD2XT 10000 Drawer 8 Optional Purchase (Ironclad) -
Verity Systems ( UK) Degaussers
Verity Systems DataGauss LG MAX 10000 Drawer 7 yes -
Verity Systems DataGauss XL LG 9000 Drawer 45 Yes -
Verity Systems DataGone LG Plus 13000 continuous Feed 9 yes -
Verity Systems SDD Master 20000 Drawer 75 yes NSA Listed
Verity Systems SV91M 7000 Degaussing Top 12 No -
Proton T-1.5 15000-17000 Drawer 3 -
Proton T-4 20000 continuous Feed 45-60 -
Proton T- 5 20000 Drawer 15 NSA Listed


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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