DON’T SHRED YOUR OLD HARD DRIVES! 8 Reasons Why Sanitization Beats Destruction for HDDs

My colleagues have written about attitudes to data erasure before: security is the top concern of IT managers looking to dispose of data storage devices such as Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) and rightly so. There is, however, a tendency to destroy equipment that could be reused because of a mistaken belief that this is the best way to protect data. Surveys suggest that many organizations shred, crush or manually destroy drives that could have been processed with accredited software and put back into use.

These destruction methods are in fact no more secure than sanitizing hardware with the kind of industry leading software used by Techbuyer; some research bodies have been able to recover data from HDDs that have been through the shredder. Using software to erase data is the industry standard for many organizations who process sensitive data, including leading corporate and government establishments such as the US Department of Defence.

However, having this great alternative is not the only reason to stop the needless destruction of hardware.

HDDs are made up of precious metals, critical raw materials and substances that are responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The following 8 materials comprise some of what we waste, lose or damagingly release when we choose to shred rather than securely erase data and reuse the IT equipment:

  1. Aluminium is one of the top five offenders in industrial greenhouse gas emissions worldwide; its manufacture accounts for 3% overall. It is present in the actuator and sometimes the disk.
  2. Cobalt is a base metal is on the US and EU Critical Raw Materials list. It is present in an oxidized layer of coating on the disk and is not recoverable with recycling.
  3. Neodymium is present in the magnets inside the drives. It is valuable on the open market.
  4. Copper is present in the Actuator and in the alloy on the mounting. Mining has impacts that can result in erosion, sinkholes, loss of biodiversity and the contamination of soil and groundwater.
  5. Chromium is present in small amounts in the Mu Metal mounting. It is on the US Critical Raw Materials list of items that are in short or politically unstable supply.
  6. Gold is present in the circuit board and the connectors. The mining of this precious metal can be damaging to the environment.
  7. Plastic is present in the circuit boards. The manufacture of the material accounts for around 4% of the world’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
  8. Stainless steel is present in the casing. The manufacture is responsible for 25% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Our data sanitization processes at Techbuyer eliminate the need for shredding or other physical destruction in most cases. We are committed to comprehensive refurbishment where possible and ethical recycling when equipment is not suitable for reuse. Our customers choose us for our excellent, industry leading standards of products, pricing and customer service. But as consumers and businesses place increasing emphasis on environmental concerns, our commitment to research and education about reuse is fast becoming one of the most important factors to choosing Techbuyer.


Techbuyer is a global leader in the buying, selling and refurbishing of data center and networking equipment. Data security is at the core of our business and we use world leading data sanitization software from WhiteCanyon and Blanco to ensure all sensitive data is fully erased before any IT equipment is refurbished. You can find out more about our secure sanitization process here.