Degaussing is the most secure method of hard drive destruction that exists, and the most misunderstood. It is more secure than shredding, crushing, drilling, or wiping a hard drive. Degaussing a hard drive with a NSA approved degausser permanently destroys the hard drive’s magnetic field and subsequently all the data on it. The drive is rendered inoperable and the data contained on it is certified forensically irrecoverable.
What is a Degausser?
Essentially, a degausser is a machine that changes the magnetic domain of magnetic data storage devices where the data is stored. Examples of magnetic storage would be media like backup LTO and DLT tapes, VHS tapes, cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes and hard drives. Compact Discs (CDs) are not considered magnetic storage because the data is stored on the disc with optics. When the degausser is applied to magnetic domains the information is scrambled into random patterns. This process renders the data that was stored in these magnetic domains unreadable.
Why is Degaussing Necessary?
Most of the time, degaussing is the only way to satisfy a federal requirement related to the sanitization and destruction of clearance-level information like “Classified” or “Top Secret.” In an attempt to protect the country’s classified information, several different federal agencies have standards and procedures that have been written on how to handle the destruction of sensitive data. Those standards involve the use of a degausser followed by physical destruction of the unit.