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How broken does a drive have to be, to be 100% safe?

We’re all had bad sectors and suffered from old-drive amnesia, where large chunks of your data have suddenly vanished. But how safe is a busted drive? KitGuru dons a radiation suit to find out just how far you have to go.

The InfoSec show at London’s Earl’s Court is a serious affair. During its 3 day run in April, the area probably boasts one of the highest packing densities for beards, brew-built-bellies and bifocals in the South East of the country.

Most of the hugely expensive stands are aimed at some kind of security software – with the odd smattering of University recruitment areas (students are now worth a lot of money, it seems). More on those some other time, maybe.

What caught the eye of a KitGuru spy was a smaller stand, that had been manned by the friendly chaps from Euro-Recycling. After a quick investigation, it was discovered that the company has nothing to do with polishing foreign coins. So what do they do exactly?

Fortunately, sales director Richard Webber was on hand to demonstrate his technology live. He seemed like a nice chap, but something in his eyes gave our spy the impression that Richard had spent over 20 years contemplating the annihilation of hardware at a manufacturer like HP, before realising his dreams of hands-on destruction. But, hey – what do we know?

OK. Enough preamble. Here’s the process in a nutshell:-

  • Drive containing potentially dangerous/incriminating/downright-dodgy data is inserted into what appears to be a nuclear-powered degaussing machine
  • The start button is pressed and everyone moved back a little (60cm is the minimum safe distance, we’re told)
  • As the countdown completes, there is a thunking sound as a huge pulse of EMF surges through the unit and anything in the firing area is degaussed. Forever.

OK. Job done, right? No chance. Webber’s a thorough chap, who doesn’t take destruction lightly.

The 100% blank drive is now inserted into what can only be described as ‘the jaws of death’.

Metal hard drives are fed into the tech-equivalent of a Christmas tree chipper – and nothing but fine dust flows out.

Killer.

Terminator style death and destruction for your data – and the hapless pallets it rode in on.

Want to see that in pictures?  We thought so.

Richard Webber from Euro Recycling with the drive that's about to die
Always read the label
"Fire in the hold!" Post-Nuke EMF Pulse strips all data from the drive - Degauss Central
Not satisfied with frying the drive, Webber then pops it into the turbo-shredder
This pixie dust is all that's left of the initial drive. Let's see System Mechanic save that data!

KitGuru says: We can think of a few malfunctioning appliances around the house we’d like to give the Euro-Recycling treatment to – and it has nothing to do with data security.

Comments below or in the KitGuru forum. Specifically, what would you turn into tech-sand, given a chance?

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