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Security doesn’t end when your hardware does. As you prepare to decommission equipment, you need to plan for your data security. Do you destroy the latent data or erase it?

You must continue security best practices beyond the lifecycle use of your physical equipment. And the most critical part of that is deciding what to do with your hard drives and storage devices before final decommissioning.

The question being: to shred or not to shred?

What Are Your Restrictions?

If your company is under compliance requirements to destroy all your hard drives, then, at this point, your answer is pretty straightforward. Erasure is out of the question, so punching or shredding become the only options for you to remain within compliance.

However, if destruction-only compliance is not a factor—and you are simply trying to decide which option is right for your business—you have a few more choices available to you.

Destruction vs. Erasure

Data destruction is the physical process of making a hard drive or storage device unusable for conventional equipment. Shredding uses an industrial machine with rotating teeth (much like a paper shredder) to completely destroy the drive and leave no possibility for data reassembly.

Aside from being the most comprehensive form of destruction, shredding is the fastest way to secure your latent data. Additionally, it’s often the more economical choice; sending data for erasure is typically more costly because you need an engineer onsite and, depending on different variables such as capacity, the process itself could take over four hours.

Erasure is a software-based process. According to NIST, there are several different ways to clear drives.

For your standard spindle hard-drives, the process overwrites the hard drive or storage device with meaningless binary (random zeros and ones) to eventually obscure the residual data. The more passes done, the more wear occurs on the drive, and the longer it takes to get the drive to a secure state for resale. For solid-state drives, the erasure process typically involves rewriting the address values or resetting the device back to the factory state.

The higher the capacity of your drive, the longer it will take to sanitize and remove the data. When done onsite, this can take many hours. Additionally, erasing drives onsite means you will need to provide a work area for the erasure process, access to electricity for the engineers, and site access for the time the project takes. The project management and onsite hours often adds up to a much higher price tag.

Determining Cost-Benefit: Data Destruction vs Data Erasure

The mantra, “Time is money,” translates across a multitude of industries, and IT is no exception.

The more time it takes to erase your drives, the longer the overall project takes, and the higher the cost.

As such, you need to determine if your soon-to-be-decommissioned hardware has enough secondary market value to offset the expenditures and the time-sink of adequate erasure procedures. Unless you have intimate knowledge of secondary markets and current hardware procurement trends, it can be difficult to make this judgement call in-house.

But there are other resources available to you to make these decisions.

Comparing Secondary Market Value and Speed-to-Delivery

A secondary market company can meticulously audit your old hardware to determine current market value.

CentricsIT knows the secondary markets well.

Our dedicated teams of in-house market experts keep our procurement teams informed of current trends and spikes in hardware demand. Moreover, our international network of strategic partners gives us insight into global marketplaces for all lines of mobile and enterprise hardware.

If you are not under certain compliance restrictions, and the resale value adequately offsets erasure costs, then we leverage software to erase your drives to your desired standard before reselling them for you. If other lines of your hardware do not retain secondary market value, or cannot be shredded due to compliance requirements, then we also provide shredding and R2-certified recycling services.

Learn more about the state of your data security during decommissioning. Download this free e-book from the CentricsIT ITAD experts.