Data is one of the most important assets for businesses. Maintaining data privacy and confidentiality is also very important. Though you incorporate several security measures to protect your data from being breached or leaked. You’d also take appropriate actions while erasing data. Using an inappropriate data eraser method might lead to a data breach, causing huge monetary losses and loss of reputation.
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In this blog, we discuss various data eraser methods, with their pros and cons that can help you decide which one is the best data eraser method as per your requirement.
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Data Erasure Methods and Techniques
There are majorly three data erasure methods – Erasure, Degaussing, and Destruction. These data sanitization methods have their own pros and cons.
Method 1. Data Erasure
If you want to wipe digital data without affecting/damaging the data storage device, choose data erasure.
There are various tools such as BitRaser Drive Eraser, which can be used for data erasure.
As per the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), data erasure can be attained by Overwriting, Block Erase, and Cryptographic Erase techniques.
Overwriting – Stale data or data to be disposed of is overwritten with non-sensitive data (0’s and 1’s) by using data erasure software.
Block Erase – Erases/purges flash-memory-based block. Thereafter, Overwriting can be used on the purged blocks.
Cryptographic Erase – This data erasure technique is used for devices that have built-in data encryption features, such as Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs). An effective data erasure tool can destroy the key used for decrypting the data on SEDs, making the data irrecoverable.
Advantages of Data Erasure
- The device can be reused after data disposal
- Media need not be shipped, and hence no risk of a data breach during transit
Disadvantages of Data Erasure
- Works only on working storage devices
- Reduces the lifecycle of flash-memory-based devices.
Method 2. Degaussing
This method is used for erasing data from magnetic storage devices. In degaussing, the device is exposed to a high-intensity magnetic field which disrupts the data.
Advantages of Degaussing
- The storage device may still remain useful in some cases
- Destroys the data even if the device is not in working condition
Disadvantages of Degaussing
- This method can’t be used for non-magnetic devices
- Due to high coercivity, existing degaussers may fail to degauss newer and advanced magnetic devices.
Method 3. Physical Destruction of Device
A data storage device can be destroyed physically so that it becomes impossible to reconstruct it. Crushing, Grinding, Disintegration, Incineration, Shredding, etc. are some of the methods to destroy storage devices.
Advantage of Physical Destruction
- It’s the most effective way of data destruction
Disadvantages of Physical Destruction
- Storage device needs to be shipped, exposing it to a risk of data theft during transit
- It renders the device unusable
Which one is the Best Data Erasure Method?
To choose a data sanitization method, you must consider if the storage device to be sanitized is functional or not, the type of storage device (magnetic or non-magnetic), the sensitivity of data, and other factors.
Based on these factors, you can choose a data erasure software, degaussing, or physical destruction method.
For instance, you can use data erasure software when your data is highly sensitive and you don’t wish to send your device to a service provider.
Similarly, you’d need to erase the data by using physical destruction or degaussing if the device isn’t in working condition.
A comparison between the three data eraser methods is given below. This will help you choose a suitable data erasure method:
|Data Erasure ||Degaussing ||Physical Destruction |
|Doesn’t damage the storage device ||May damage the storage device ||Destroy the device completely |
|No need to ship the device and prevents data breach during transit ||The storage device needs to be shipped, exposing it to the data breach ||The device needs to be shipped, exposing it to the data breach |
|Works only on working storage devices ||Data can be destroyed from non-working storage devices ||The condition of the storage device doesn’t matter |
|Eco-friendly data eraser method ||The device couldn’t be reused ||The destructed device adds to e-waste |
The destruction method is the most effective way of data erasure, but it needs your device to be shipped which exposes it to the data breach risk. Hence, it’s recommended to erase the data by using a data erasure software such as BitRaser Drive Eraser. It is a do-it-yourself tool and implements the International Standards of Data Erasure. The software also generates a certificate of erasure, which guarantees the destruction of data beyond the scope of recovery.