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Posted Aug 26th, 2020

Does Degaussing Work to Destroy a Solid State Drive?

Securis gets a lot of questions about how to destroy a solid state drive, and whether degaussing works to do so. It’s important to have a solution to securely destroy solid state drives (SSDs) reaching the end of their lifecycle. Here’s what you need to know about how to destroy a solid state drive, whether degaussing works, and how small the shredded particles need to be. These practices will become even more important as more and more companies choose to use SSDs.

Will a Degausser work to destroy SSD?

It’s not possible to destroy a solid state drive using a degausser. A solid state drive uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data, unlike traditional hard disk drives, and therefore is unaffected by degaussing. Degaussing is the absolute best way to destroy data on traditional hard drives as degaussing erases data by reducing or eliminating the unwanted magnetic field, but it will not work on data stored on circuits that have no magnetic field to erase. SSDs do not have a magnetic field.

If you shred a solid state drive, how small do shredded fragments need to be?

The fragment size of shredded solid state drives is very important. Since degaussing won’t work on SSDs, we must think of them as other types of electronic chips and circuits, meaning that the most effective way to destroy them is by shredding. We determined that the shred width (particle size) was critical to the success of destroying the small memory chips that make up an SSD. We found that a shred width of ½” or smaller is needed to break through the small memory chips and securely destroy all the stored data effectively.

Many standard industrial shredders, however, will only shred to 1” particle size. The result being that memory chips can slip through the hammers that shred the data, leaving sensitive information intact and retrievable. Since most on-site shredders are not up to the task, the choice for a business then becomes whether to invest in an expensive new piece of industrial equipment or partner with a company that knows how to destroy SSDs effectively and already has the requisite equipment to do so. When destroying SSDs, awareness of the appropriate shred width distinction to break through the memory chips is crucial and can mean the difference between ensuring that sensitive data is properly destroyed or can still be retrieved.

What is Microshredding Technology?

As described above, it’s important for solid state drives to be destroyed to smaller particle sizes than a traditional shredder is able to manage. Securis utilizes microshredding technology that grinds SSDs and other small data-containing devices into 2mm e-crumbs.

How can we track destroyed solid state drives?

Inventory tracking is a vital part of data destruction. Management of IT assets throughout the entire lifecycle requires a leak-proof system that accounts for the location and status of each asset. This includes ensuring proper disposal and destruction of data and other sensitive information and technology. With an auditable, trackable, and indisputable inventory record of each destroyed SSD, liability and risk are greatly minimized and peace of mind that sensitive information has been properly destroyed is maximized. If you have sensitive data, assurance that it is gone for good with the correct documentation not only provides assurances that data is destroyed effectively, but can also save you from damages in the event of a breach.

The rise in SSDs has sparked the need for innovation in responsible and secure disposal. Knowledge of best practices when it comes to the last 100 yards of an IT asset’s end-of-life is essential to managing risk. With solid state drives, always make sure your in-house solution or current vendor is utilizing the correct shredder to guarantee physical destruction of the data. The emergence of solid state drives is why Securis has invested in the necessary technology to dispose of them properly.

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