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What is a Degausser?
Degaussing is the process of reducing or eliminating an unwanted Magnetic Field which holds information that is stored on Tape and Disk Media.
Tape Media is defined as any medium - Reel or Cassette, which contains Magnetic Tape as the recording medium.
Disk Media is defined as any medium - Flexible Disk, Disk Packs, Sealed Disk Packs, Hard Disk Drives, Laptop Drives, and Disk Platters that contains a Disk as the recording medium.
The correct use of a properly selected Degausser will ensure that this information is no longer retrievable.
What is Degaussing?
A degausser, in concept, is a simple product that erases information stored on Magnetic Storage Devises that retain Classified or Sensitive Data. In the recording process, Media that is recorded to its saturation level is then magnetized. The Magnetization is known as the Magnetic Flux Density which is measured in "Gauss". Therefore, reducing the flux back to zero is technically known as "Degaussing".
Degaussing is undertaken by applying a strong magnetic field to reduce the media's Magnetic Flux Density back to zero. During degaussing the Magnetic Media is passed through a powerful alternating Magnetic Field to rearrange the pattern of the Magnetic Particles, completely removing any resemblance to the previously recorded signal.
The strength of this Magnetic Field is determined by the "Coercivity" of the Media's Magnetic Particles and Coercivity is measured in units which are known as "Oersteds". The higher the Oersted rating of the Media, the more difficult it is to change the Magnetic Flux Density back to zero.
It is common today to hear about instances of private or confidential data being found on IT equipment that has been returned, donated, sold or disposed of. Degaussing will permanently erase this information from hard drives and data tape in seconds, preventing the unauthorized retrieval of this data. Degaussing will also permanently erase the data from non-functioning hard drives and data tape allowing the media to be safely returned to the manufacturer or to be disposed.
Degaussing gives you in-house control of all sensitive and private information. Computers have been designed to be resilient by allowing information to be recovered if accidentally deleted or even if the Hard Drive has been reformatted. Even after the deletion or reformatting of a Hard Drive, certain magnetic patterns of existing data still exist on the disk platters. By degaussing the disk it demagnetizes the entire hard drive including the disk platters which in turn leaves no magnetic patterns on the hard drive.
Once degaussed correctly and to a suitable standard, the hard drive will be completely unusable and will not be recognized by your computer. In fact, the erasure is so deep that the factory written servo tracks on the disk platters are also demagnetized, leaving no reference points for the disk read heads to key in on.
Please Note: broken or non-working hard drives still contain all of the original data and information which can very easily be recovered. Degaussing provides the quickest and most complete erasure of all hard drives.
When should I degauss my media?
Media should always be degaussed before it is disposed of for any reason. If you change laptops or PCs, when you have transferred all of the information you require, always remove the hard drive and degauss the information before disposing of the computer. Even if your hard drive has been damaged or is non-operational and the information does not play on your computer, the information is generally still retained on the storage platter and can usually be very easily retrieved. Always remember that drives do not have to be hooked up to your computer for the information to be read or to be degaussed.
Are Hard Drives re-usable after Degaussing?
Hard Drives are not reusable after degaussing because our degaussers erase all of the data, the formatting of the disk, and the control track/servo track information. This information is contained on hard drives in magnetic patterns which are removed; completely eliminating the possibility of recovery.
Why should I use a Degausser from ShreddingMachines.co.uk?
Our Suppliers have been manufacturing suitable degaussing products for more than 25 years to support the Department of Defense (DoD) requirements for complete erasure of Classified or Sensitive Magnetic Storage Devices therefore guaranteeing the complete erasure of data stored on existing and future magnetic data storage formats.
All of the degaussers listed are featured in the NSA/CSS Evaluated Products List-Degausser (EPL-Degausser) and will help you meet the Degaussing Security Guidelines and Standard for other institutions including:
Please note that as different Government Departments are mandated to destroy or delete information by certain procedures depending on the Security Level of the information held on the Media it is always suitable to discuss your particular requirements with your Security Advisor as to the correct procedure required.
Common Degausser Misconceptions
Myth: All degaussers are created equally.
Fact: There are many degaussers available on the market, each rated for different media based upon the degausser's field strength. A degausser's magnetic field strength is measured in Gauss or Oersteds. Likewise, magnetic media has a property called Coercivity, which is measured in Oersteds, which informs you how hard or how easy each tape or hard drive is to erase. For complete erasure, a degausser's magnetic field strength must be two to three times the Coercivity of the media. At Degaussers.eu we can help you identify the correct degausser based upon your media sanitisation requirements.
Myth: All Degaussers erase Disk Drives.
Fact: Most commercial degausser specifications claim a magnetic field strength of 4000 Oersted (Gauss) or less, while most disk drives have coercivity ratings of 5000 Oersteds. To ensure complete erasure, a degausser's magnetic field strength must be two to three times the Coercivity of the media. Therefore, a 4000 Oersted (Gauss) degausser has barely enough strength to erase 2000 Oersted Media, making a 4000 Oersted Commercial Degausser insufficient for proper erasure of today's 5000 Oersted Hard Disk Drives. At Degaussers.eu we can help you identify the correct degausser based upon your media sanitisation requirements.
Myth: Formatting, Deleting, Overwriting and/or Physical Destruction of Media is an adequate substitute for Degaussing.
Fact: The only way to ensure all information is removed from a Tape or Disk is to use an appropriate, NSA approved degausser and depending on the security level required, a suitable shredding system.
Formatting, Deleting and Overwriting does NOT Erase Files, it simply removes Pointers and Compresses Disk Space - the files remain and can be recovered leaving your data at risk.
Likewise, Physical Destruction - Shattering, Drilling, Folding, Shredding and Disintegrating does NOT ensure your data is unrecoverable either.
Both Commercial and Government Laboratories have methods to successfully recover information from tiny pieces of disks and tape. The only way to properly ensure ALL information is removed from a tape or a disk is to use an appropriate, NSA approved Degausser and depending on the Security Level of the information this should be combined with a suitable Shredding System.
Myth: All Electromagnetic Degaussers create a dangerous Magnetic Field that can escape from the Degausser.
Fact: All Degaussers supplied by Degaussers.eu do not waste energy and have a shield which keeps the magnetic field within the machine. Any magnetic field outside of the degausser is equal to or less than the earth's magnetic field.
Myth: All Electromagnetic Degaussers heat Media.
Fact: All Electromagnetic Degaussers do not heat media. When magnetic media, which is encased in Aluminium, is exposed to an AC Magnetic Field for an extended period of time, the temperature of the media will rise. This phenomenon is common with many commercial table top style degaussers. A Capacitive Discharge Degausser supplied by Degaussers.eu eliminates the constant exposure to an AC field and therefore does not heat the media.