What is Degaussing and How Does it Work?

What is Degaussing? 

It is a process of removing data by rearranging the magnetic field on an electronic device. Once this process is set to action, retrieving data becomes impossible.

Whether you’re a consumer business or government organization, chances are you have personal and confidential information stored on a variety of devices. But do you know what happens to your sensitive information when your device reaches its end of life? 

With electronics becoming obsolete, faster and faster, and few people giving serious consideration to how they dispose of their outdated electronic devices, there is a good chance your method of disposal could be making you susceptible to hackers who mined data from e-waste or electronic recyclers. 

Degaussing in History 

The term is rooted in the word gauss, which refers to a unit of magnetism. It was named after the 18th-century German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss. 

Historically, degaussing was a method used during WWII to reduce the magnetic fields of ships as they traveled across the ocean. 

Decades later, the method of degaussing was used to minimize static and fix distorted images on TV and monitors. 

In the modern-day, degaussing is an effective way to ensure the permanent destruction of data on magnetic storage devices. 

The Science Behind Data Destruction 

Hard drives contain a round metal plate known as a platter, which consists of billions of tiny magnetic fields. 

The platters are designed in a very specific pattern during the hard drive manufacturing process. 

The process disorients the fields and completely destroys the data.

Although it does not physically alter the hard drive in any way, it still causes it to be completely inoperable. 

There are various options for degaussers depending on varied needs.

The Future of Degaussing 

The difference between degaussing and physical shredding is the time it takes to complete a task. While it takes a minute for 2-3 hard drives to be degaussed, it  takes 60 seconds for a hard drive shredder to be destroyed.

While data storage evolve alongside technologies, old data will be need to be safely destroyed. This will bring degaussers into the spotlight and ensure the efficient completion of the job.



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