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When, Not If, Your Hard Drive Fails

The failure of a hard drive is an inevitability that many people do not realize will occur. While data can be preserved through backing it up on an external drive, that doesn’t solve the problem of the original data still existing on the drive. Generally, the earliest sign of hard drive failure is a clicking noise. This is usually a sign that the reader arm which pulls the data from your hard drive has begun to impact the platters which store the data for your hard drive. Another less obvious sign of hard drive failure is the drive occasionally not showing up when you are attempting to access it. However even the failure of a hard drive doesn’t mean the data is beyond reach. Very few things are unrecoverable with enough time and tools. Take, for example, the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Even through a fire-y explosion, and after falling through the Earth's atmosphere landing on the ground in Texas,  one of the hard drives on board was still able to have 99% of the data retrieved by scientists. What that means for you is that even though your hard drive has crashed, your data isn’t safe.

Any person with simple knowledge of hard drives and the correct equipment can recover data from a crashed hard drive. That means that you shouldn’t simply throw your crashed hard drive out, because someone else could end up getting a hold of your data. Most people keep their entire lives on a hard drive, from their medical records, financial documents, and social security information to their family photos and school projects. For businesses that’s no exception either. Many businesses use their computers to keep track of their financial documents, employee records and client data.

What that means is that should the data of a failed hard drive fall into the wrong hands with the right tools businesses could be in big trouble. If the hard drive have any form of data that’s legally protected such as HIPAA, there can be very severe penalties. On average, incurring a HIPAA violation can cost a business a minimum of $50,000 and for unknowingly causing the breach up to a year in prison, and that’s per violation. This is just one example of data that is protected by law, and the results of the privacy of that data being breached.

The only way to ensure that your data has been completely removed from your hard drive is through the use of a hard drive degausser. In its most simple form, a degausser is designed to eliminate the data on your hard drive. It produces such a powerful magnetic field that it permanently removes or randomizes the magnetic data that is stored on your hard drive. It is the only way to make sure that your data will be beyond the reach of anyone trying to retrieve it.

When it comes to figuring out what kind of hard drive deguasser to use, it can seem a little overwhelming at first. However there are great resources offered by the government, including a full list of NSA approved hard drive degaussers. In order to be an NSA approved hard drive degausser, it has to be capable of putting out at least 5000 oersted, which is the unit used to measure the strength of a magnetic field. However, degaussing machines often list their measurements in gauss, and there are roughly 3 gauss to an oersted. What this means is any NSA approved degausser is going to be at least 15,000 gauss. If your company does not require an NSA listed deguasser, don't feel as if you have to use one. Non-NSA degaussers are just as reliable. Typically, if a degausser is not on the NSA list, it simply means that it has yet to be tested.  For the best degaussing solutions for your business, reach out to us.