Data Disposal (by Andy Gibson)
I agree with
"Why? By Andy Gibson".
First and only rule: Don't dispose of sensitive data via a public service. HDDs, memory sticks, CDs, DVDs, tapes, floppies (maybe you still use them or have a few from earlier days), condoms (and other DNA samples such as paper tissues or even anything you may have touched and left greasy fingerprints on), etc etc.
If one has sensitive information one should consider the practical aspects of disposal.
If data is 'personal' or 'sensitive' don't give it to anyone else.
Discussions about the best way to 'destroy' a disk are little more than an afterthought and provide a entertaining forum for the most devious and creative ways of having fun by destroying hardware.
Other 'sensitive' data should be covered by existing company or government procedures - and if you don't know how to deal with it you shouldn't store it or even have access to it. By the way, losing a laptop is a popular and topical way of getting rid of data - unless it can be traced back to you personally that is.
Comments about being able to recover data from smashed-up disks are valid - data can be recovered but only at a very high cost. So if some snifter, crawling through a rubbish tip, finds a flattened HDD, or other media, they could theoretically recover data, assuming they have access to clean-room laboratory equipment and the appropriate forensic expertise - plus a fence to market it through. If the HDD is in good condition they’ll plug it in and see what they can find (ever spent any time searching a HDD for ‘interesting’ info?)
Ok, go for a walk down to the local scrap-yard and hire a gas cutter or a disc-cutter – you might save your time by going to the pub or somewhere else if when you get back to your house you discover the burglars have been and left a card advertising Milk Tray.
When I’ve write-off a PC I retain the HDD(s) – not because of the data but because it may be useful later, maybe as part of an archive system or something.
Be realistic – stop jumping at shadows and start thinking what you are actually doing and what you hope to achieve.