Before purchasing a degausser, it's important to know which features are important to you and your organization. We broke it down into four easy questions. With this knowledge, we can help you pick out the hard drive degausser that will be the perfect addition to your office.
1.) SIZE & Number of employees / Amount of media to be destroyed
How big is your organization? Are you a small locally owned business with just a few employees, or are you a large-scale company with thousands of employees? As a small company, it's possible that you may only have a few hard drives a month that need to be destroyed. If this is the case, it's possible that you will be able to use a wand style degausser. These space saving degaussing solutions are easily portable, storable, and work just as well as the industrial style degaussing machines.
As a larger company, you'll probably have more drives in need of degaussing. Considering a more heavy-duty machine will save your company time and money. With cycle times of under one minute per drive, and optional conveyors these types of degaussers make larger batches of drives, easier to destruct.
2.) What are you trying to destroy?
As you are shopping for a degausser, an important note to remember is that drive deguassers are ineffective at destroying solid state drives. Essentially, degaussers work by changing the magnetism of the platter where the data is stored. Since SSDs store information on optical disks, magnets will not work to destroy the drive.
When a degausser is applied to a hard drive, the magnetic information that is stored on the magnetic platter is scrambled into random patterns, rendering the device unreadable and useless. Correctly using a deguasser with a hard drive is a way to ensure that your information is irretrievable.
Some degaussers work on other types of media including floppy disks, magnetic storage devices, bubble memory chips, and thin film nodules. If you're looking into a degausser for these types of materials, it's important to follow up with a product expert who can help you find the best fit for you.
3.) Automatic or Manual?
Manually operated degaussers are designed for low volume erasure of hard drive disks. They are simple to use and many on the market will meet NSA specifications. Operation is simple, remove the screws from the casing to expose the spinning hard drive platter. Pull out the magnetic platter and wrap it in a cloth or napkin. Then you can take the manual degaussing wand and run it over every inch of the platter in a circular motion. Flip it over to the other side and conduct the same movement over the back of the platter. Once you feel confident that you have run the wand over every inch of it, you are complete. All data on the drive is now irrecoverable.
Automatic degaussers are great for companies that have a larger load of drives that need to be degaussed. These work in various ways including drawer-style which involve inserting whole drives into a slot and pushing a single button to degauss the whole unit in a matter of seconds. Others work by inserting the whole disk into a slot, pushing a button to run the cycle, and having the drive spit out a conveyor into a specified bin or bucket.
4.) nsa Security Ratings
The National Security Agency (NSA) requires very strict regulations be set forth for degaussers. The machines that are NSA evaluated are ones that have been proven produce forensically irrecoverable hard drive disks. Due to the passing of many laws and acts including, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), many non-government organizations require hard drives to be destroyed to NSA specifications to be in accordance with these laws.
Securing an NSA certification on a degausser is an arduous and lengthy process that is not taken lightly. You can be certain that with an NSA evaluated degausser, your hard drives are in the safest hands. This does not, however, discount non-NSA rated degaussers. Just because a degausser is not NSA rated, does not necessarily mean that it won't completely make your data irretrievable. Depending on the classification of the documents on your hard drive, a non-NSA rated degausser may provide just as much assurance as an approved product.
The Bottom Line
With so many different aspects to keep in mind while looking into hard drive degaussers, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Keep these four questions in mind while shopping it can help guide you in the direction of your new degausser!