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How to Dispose of Old or Unwanted Backup Media & Data Tapes

How to Dispose of Old or Unwanted Backup Media & Data Tapes

Backup media usually contains sensitive or important information. So naturally, when it is no longer needed, it needs to be disposed of correctly and completely to ensure that the information cannot be accessed again.

No matter the type of media you use (tapes etc.), your backup media will eventually wear out and need replacing, or the information stored will no longer be relevant. Whatever the case, the correct disposal is important to the security of the data.

Overwriting Data
This is one of the most-used methods for data disposal. Simply put, data is completely overwritten with meaningless binary, essentially removing it from existence.

There are shortfalls with this method, however. Overwrites are time-consuming, and while it is 99% effective, with the right tools and technology, an experienced technician could still retrieve overwritten data from a tape or disk. Unlikely, but still possible.

A damaged disk also probably can’t be overwritten and would have to be disposed of by other means.

Degaussing is simply a technique to destroy data on magnetic data tapes using a strong magnet. Changing the magnetic field on the tape the data effectively destroy the data it contains.

This method for disposal used to be extremely popular, but with recent advances in technology, many types of magnetic media are far more resistant to degaussing and require an extremely powerful magnet to get the job done.

Furthermore, this method makes it difficult to ascertain if the data has actually been completely removed. It is impractical to run time-consuming checks on the disk to verify the complete destruction of data.

Physical Destruction
It goes without saying that the correct and complete destruction of the physical backup media will render the data completely inaccessible. It is therefore viewed as a particularly effective method of disposal.

The downside of physical destruction of media is simply in human error. Leaving the task to inexperienced admin can result in all sorts of problems. It is, therefore, a good idea to employ the services of a specialist company who will use the correct techniques to completely destroy and dispose of the media.

Effective disposal of media backups is probably best achieved using a combination of techniques. For example, data could be overwritten and then physically destroyed, ensuring that it is impossible to retrieve any data.

If you are unsure about destroying your own data, you can easily utilise the services of a company experienced in data destruction, ensuring your peace of mind.

Iron Mountain offers safe and secure tape destruction. We destroy your data tapes and supply you with a certificate to state how many tapes have been destroyed and the method of destruction that was used.

Please contact us to discuss your data disposal requirements.


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