What to Know About Hard Drive Shredding

If your hard drive has failed, you can’t just throw it away. Even a bad hard drive will contain sensitive data that can be recovered. Additionally, hard drives that get tossed into landfills won’t biodegrade. In fact, external hard drives can create greenhouse gas emissions as they sit in landfills.

So, don’t throw your hard drive away! Instead, destroy the data on it first and  recycle it. Centers that specialize in hard drive recycling will use a wide array of data destruction methods, including hard drive shredding.

In this article, we’ll discuss how hard drive shredding works, the advantages and disadvantages of this process, and how it compares to other hard drive recycling methods.

How Does Hard Drive Shredding Work?

As the name suggests, hard drive shredding involves breaking down a hard drive into tiny bits and pieces. Think of paper going through a shredder. Of course, hard drive shredding is done with a special shredder, and not a standard paper shredder.

Because shredding tears your hard drive into little pieces, it makes it harder for someone to recover any data that might have been on the drive.

In general, you should not shred your hard drive on your own. Unless you are trained to do so, the shredding process could release environmental contaminants, contributing to pollution. Furthermore, you need to use the right machinery to shred your hard drive. It can be incredibly expensive, so unless you do this process regularly, it will not be financially worth it.

Hard Drive Shredding Pros & Cons

There are several benefits of hard drive shredding. Some of the biggest benefits include:

  • Prevents Recovery of Sensitive Data
  • Environmentally-Friendly (When Done Right)
  • Ensures Compliance With HIPAA & FACTA

Disadvantages of shredding include:

  • Potential Incomplete Destruction (If Not Properly Trained)
  • Risk of Environmental Pollution
  • Expensive Equipment 

It’s important to note that these disadvantages only occur if the process is not done correctly. That’s why it’s always better to turn to specialists at an electronic recycling center.

Hard Drive Shredding Versus Other Methods

Hard drive shredding isn’t the only data destruction method out there. Degaussing, melting, and drilling are also some methods that are used.


When comparing all four methods, melting is by far the most dangerous method. It involves dipping your hard drive in acid to destroy the information on it. Although it is effective, it does rely on the use of strong hydrochloric and nitric acids. If you come into contact with any of these acids, you risk possible eye damage, nose and throat irritation, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even long-term health conditions.


In terms of effectiveness, drilling isn’t at the top of the list. Drilling your hard drive will obviously damage it, but data can still be recovered from any sections that haven’t been damaged.


With melting and drilling out of the picture, we’re left with two data destruction methods: degaussing and hard drive shredding. Degaussing is performed using special equipment called a degausser. The degausser uses a magnetic field to scramble data on the hard drive, which makes it unreadable. Once you know how to operate a degausser, this method can also be incredibly easy to perform.

Degaussing Versus Shredding: Which Method Is the Most Effective?

Is degaussing better than hard drive shredding? The answer is complicated as both methods are incredibly effective. When shredding is done correctly, it’s safe, environmentally-friendly, and ensures total data destruction. On the other hand, it’s likely that degaussing is a more effective way to wipe a hard drive. Hard drives use magnetic storage, so the exposure to the strong magnetic field in a degausser does ensure that the data will either be totally unreadable or fully eliminated.

If you’re not sure which data destruction method to use for your hard drive, your best bet is to visit a specialized hard drive recycling center.

Where to Find Hard Drive Recycling Services in Michigan

You can take your old hard drives to High Tech Recycling. We proudly offer free hard drive recycling and data destruction services to residents in the metro Detroit, MI, area. Since our founding in 2011, we’ve been committed to helping our community reduce e-waste in the safest most efficient way possible.

You can drop off hard drives to our center at any time during normal business hours, or you can schedule a time for us to pick up your drives from your home, office, or other location. If you have any questions about hard drive recycling, or want to learn more about our services, please contact us today. Thank you for helping us keep electronics out of landfills!

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