Data security, data breaches and data protection is now becoming part of everyday life. From a personal perspective we want our data looked after, we don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands and we expect the people who hold our data to be equally responsible.

Businesses and the public sector are seen as data controllers and have a duty to ensure that data is protected. This is especially important when disposing of computer equipment and the recycling or disposal of hard drives.

Overwriting
Hard drive recycling can be viewed in several ways, overwriting the drives by completely erasing the data so the drives can be reused or physically destruction, which means the drives would go for further recycling to take the drives to its base materials as recyclates.

Erasing
Erasing the drives allows reuse but you should make sure that the drives are completely wiped. Using an CESG approved software will ensure this and will allow a certificate of media erasure to be printed off on successful wipes.

However, you still need a procedure for drives that fail the wiping process. Only physical destruction then will ensure complete data removal.

Physical destruction takes two forms: shredding or crushing, but this is not the end of the process. Once the drives are destroyed they undergo further recycling.

Shredded/Crushed
Once they have been shredded or crushed the drives are then shredded further and chopped into tiny particle sizes. There are then various ways of separating the materials out, including electromagnets, floating off materials in different density liquids, eddy current separators and centrifuges. This allows light metals to be seperated from aluminium, the magnets are seperated and the circuit boards.

These are returned as recyclates and would be base materials ready for a brand new production process and product.

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