Kansas State University


IT News

New device simplifies secure disposal of computer hard drives, tapes

K-State recently purchased a device that simplifies the proper disposal of magnetic storage media such as computer hard drives, tapes, and floppy disks. The device is a Garner HDTD-8800 DeGausser, for those who care about such details, which is basically a very strong magnet that scrambles data on the storage media in a manner that prevents recovery of the data. Located in K-State’s Recycling Center behind Weber Hall, Facilities staff now process all hard disks, tapes, and floppy disks with the degausser before disposal.

K-State’s Media Sanitization and Disposal Policy requires purging of all university data before reuse or disposal of storage media. With the degausser, you can simply remove the hard drive from the computer and give it to K-State Recycling along with your other e-waste. However, if the hard drive contains confidential data, like SSNs or credit card numbers, you should still securely erase the disk drive before it leaves your department. See K-State’s media sanitization and disposal website for more information, including how to properly erase and dispose of different types of media.

If you have been collecting hard drives or tapes waiting for a secure method of disposal, call the Recycling Center at 785-532-6446 to schedule pick-up or arrange a time to deliver them to the Recycling Center.

Unfortunately, the degausser is ineffective with solid state storage, like USB flash drives (aka “thumb drives”), camera memory cards (SD, CompactFlash, Memory Sticks, SmartMedia, etc.), and hybrid drives (combination of magnetic and solid state storage). These devices store data electronically, not magnetically, so the degausser has no effect. You therefore must purge the data from the storage media before disposal.

About Harvard Townsend (harv@ksu.edu)

Chief Information Security Officer