How to Properly Prepare Your Digital Equipment for Disposal

Hammer used to destroy a hard drive to make data unrecoverable physically

Equipment manufacturers are using technology more than ever to add functionality, flexibility, and reliability to their products. Today, nearly every piece of hardware in your offices has some form of non-volatile memory, whether a hard disk drive, solid-state drive, or flash memory. You must properly prepare your digital equipment for disposal to eliminate the chance of sensitive data ending up in the wrong hands.

Hazards of Multi-Function Printers Not Prepared For Disposal

Most organizations have one or more multi-function printers (MFP) that allow staff to scan, print, copy, and fax documents. Connected to the company network, several workers can use the same machine, lowering equipment costs and improving efficiency and print quality. Some MFPs also act as collaboration tools,  streamlining workflows by digitizing and sharing documents. To provide all this capability, the MFP stores the digitized data.

One way organizations face the danger of an accidental data leak is by not preparing leased digital equipment for disposal. Many MFP manufacturers sell their products as a managed print service or lease the gear to a company. At the end of the contract, it’s common for the manufacturer to replace the MFPs with newer models. The manufacturer can then refurbish the older equipment and resell or re-lease it to another company.

Here’s where the danger comes into play: if the storage of the refurbished equipment isn’t cleared of data, the new user may be able to access it. However inadvertent the access is, your data is exposed to unauthorized people.

How to Properly Prepare Your Digital Equipment for Disposal

The moral of the MFP story is to prepare your digital equipment for disposal, principally by ensuring the memory of each piece of equipment is cleansed of your corporate data before turning it over to the manufacturer or leasing company. The same goes for PCs, servers, phone systems, and more. So, let’s look at ways to securely and permanently remove sensitive information.

Physical Destruction

Using a sledgehammer to destroy a hard drive physically is a pretty reliable way of making it impossible to retrieve data. Drilling holes in the drives or melting them are two more means of destroying the data. However, physical destruction is not viable when you have many devices or equipment to clean.

Full Drive Formatting

Simply deleting files from a drive isn’t very secure. There are many applications designed to recover accidentally deleted data. Full Formatting is better than deleting data, as it electronically erases and rebuilds the drive, providing a clean slate. However, if you lease the equipment, the manufacturer may not allow you to remove their proprietary software. While effective, full formatting is less secure than specialized data erasure tools.

Data Erasure Apps

These applications are the best at wholly and securely erasing data from both HDD and SSD devices. Following different government standards like NIST SP 800-88 Rev 1 or DoD 5220.22-M/ECE, these software tools overwrite your data with random patterns multiple times using either the 3-pass or 7-pass method, thus fully erasing the data on the device.

Let Us Properly Prepare Your Digital Equipment for Disposal

As much fun as it may be to take a sledgehammer to a hard drive, your time is better spent focused on your business. With that in mind, Digital Uppercut can lighten the load and help properly prepare your digital equipment for disposal. Call us at 818-913-1335 or contact us online today.