Oregon Infomatix, Inc.

Different Ways To Securely Address Hard Drive Data

What You Need To Decide

Please visit the following website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_remanence to review a very good Wikipedia article that discusses the problem your business faces as related to the secure removal of data. Of critical importance is the "Overwriting" section (which is what Infomatix can do for you and the "Feasibility of recovering overwritten data" section.

This is one of those "grey" areas of computing. As you can gather from reading these two sections, some say that physical destruction is the only way to guarantee that data will not be recovered from a media item. Others point out that in studies, a.k.a the real world, the single pass overwrites should be fine.

Below I provide additional insight that can help you with this decision.

Single Pass Vs. Multiple Pass Disk Overwriting

With overwriting, basically the idea is to write information to the hard drive. Single Pass Overwriting does this one time with 0's and Multi Pass Overwriting does this more than once with different characters. Some points on this:

Single Pass Overwrites take far less time to process -- approximately thirty minutes for a 100GB drive. Multi Pass Overwriting takes several hours and because of these time considerations, Infomatix will not process a Multi Pass Overwrite.
Multi Pass Overwriting supposedly is more secure and often will be associated with Department Of Defense standards -- DOD_5220.22-M. However, the DOD also states that media containing top secret data must be physically destroyed -- um, grey area right.

A Single Pass Overwrite (which Infomatix does service) will prevent data from being retrieved simply by reading from the medium again using standard system functions. In other words, special tools would need to be used to obtain data from media that was overwritten using a single pass. And even in that case, there is doubt as to weather or not that these specialized means would be successful.

As referenced in the "Feasibility of recovering overwritten data" section of the article, studies have concluded that a single pass wipe is all that should be required for modern drives.

Physical Destruction

After reviewing the Wikipedia article, if you feel that your business would prefer to have a media item physically destroyed, there are several options available to you. Physical destruction traditionally has been extremely expensive. Recently though, prices have dropped dramatically to the point where this option now is very affordable. In fact, the prices as quoted February 2013 are so reasonable that it almost makes sense to physically destroy all unused media. With one possible exception:

Charity. If the drive is destroyed then non profits (like Free Geek) can't use the drive on the systems that you donate.

In review of three physical destruction businesses (ShredIT, Cintas & AccuShred NW) serving our Portland Metro Area I have found that AccuShred NW provides the best overall service value.

AccuShred NW -- 503-669-0460 -- http://www.accunw.com/shredding-portland-oregon

AccuShredNW is located in Gresham and is NAID + AAA certified. They provide on location services for all physical destruction. Costs are $10 per hard drive and the drives are melted after initial breakup. Other media (floppy disks, CD's, ZIP's etc.) is destroyed at $50 up to 50LBS. and .50 per LB there after. This material is shred to nickle/dime size pieces.

$50 minimum charge. If you want to have any kind of media other than hard drives (floppy's, CD's etc.) destroyed on site, they would send a 2nd truck that handles that specific task. So, in this case you would have two minimum charges -- one for the hard drives and one for the other media. If you are OK with the other media going back to the AccuShred office and destroyed there, then you would only encounter a single minimum -- $50 for the hard drive truck going onsite.

In all cases, a certificate of destruction is provided. If the media is destroyed on location you're handed the certificate. If it is destroyed off location, AccuShred NW will mail you the certificate. And, all hard drives are scanned for serial numbers and this is also provided.

In the end, I really liked the people I spoke with at AccuShred and they were highly recommended by the City Of Gresham.