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Top 5 Data Destruction Myths Busted

Over a decade ago, when presenting his proposal for the ClubCard loyalty scheme to the directors of Tesco, Clive Humby coined the famous phrase ‘Data is the new oil’. His analogy quickly became a commonly accepted fact – data fuels the information economy exactly the same way that oil fuels the industrial economy.

And yet, despite its critical value to modern businesses, the way businesses of all sizes handle storage devices that have reached their end-of-life leaves them massively exposed to data breaches. This is due largely to the fact that these businesses still believe in one or more of the following data destruction myths:

1. Destroying hard drives destroys data

A common approach when dealing with end-of-life hard drives is to physically destroy them. At face value, this is the most effective way to ensure no one can access the data on the drives. Anyone with a drill, bowling ball or car can reduce a hard drive to scrap metal in a matter of minutes – problem solved, right?

Not necessarily. On older, hard disk drives (HDDs) that store data magnetically across a spinning plate, physically destroying them, or better yet shredding them, is a safe bet. However, on modern solid state drives (SSDs), all it takes is one solid state data chip to survive and would-be data thieves are in business.

This is where free space file shredding software becomes invaluable. This software makes it virtually impossible to recover any data that normal deletion or formatting may leave on a drive. It’s the digital equivalent of grinding your hard drives down to dust and the best part is those drives can be repurposed and sold – good for the environment and a handy way to get value back from old gear.

2. Multiple passes are required to erase data

Sure, in older drives, multiple passes were required to make sure bit shadows and overlays were removed, but if you’re dealing with newer drives, all multiple passes will do is wear drives out faster.

Drives that are ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) compliant have built-in drive controllers. These make the job of erasing all the data on any given drive much easier. This is not to say that drives that are not SATA compliant can’t also be wiped clean with a single overwrite – modern disks, NVMes and SSDs can all be overwritten with a single overwrite using null bytes.

3. Deleted files are gone for good

What most people don’t realise is that simply deleting files, and sometimes even formatting drives, gets rid of data for good. However, when you delete files essentially what you are doing is removing the pointers that tell whatever device is reading the hard drive where the data is. Once those pointers are removed, that space is marked as ‘free’ on the hard drive and any new data stored on the drive is written over the old data.

However, with the right tools, data that has been deleted can easily be recovered. Having said this, there are a number of sure-fire ways to ensure total data erasure depending on the drives being used – we’re happy to talk you through the best option [link to contact page].

4.  You can’t erase a damaged disk

The power of reliable data erasure software is such that it can even work on hard drives that have been partially damaged and are riddled with bad sectors. Typically drives like these would be physically destroyed, but as mentioned before, this is not always a fail-safe method – SSD drives that are being shredded at any size above 2mm could leave chips behind that opportunistic data thieves could extract data from.

Erase your data digitally before they go through a physical shredder for total piece of mind.

5. Smaller businesses don’t get targeted by data theft

Here’s a sobering fact – according to a 2018 report released by Hiscox, one small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds. This equates to roughly one in five SMBs each year. The mentality that smaller businesses don’t get targeted by data theft is, ironically, exactly why they are so frequently targeted.

Successful cyber-attacks don’t just hurt the business in terms of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands, they also deliver a stinging second blow to your business’s reputation: 44% of UK consumers state they will stop spending with a business temporarily after a security breach. Bigger companies might be able to weather this storm, but smaller businesses could easily go belly-up.

If your business has storerooms full of end-of-life data storage devices that need to be securely dealt with, give us a call. We can help bust any data destruction myths your business might fall prey to and possibly even return value for devices that have passed their shelf life.

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