Ineffective Data Destruction Methods You Should Avoid

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 3:49 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

When laptops, cell phones, hard drives and tablets become obsolete — whether they’re broken, dated, or simply no longer required — disposing of them isn’t always a straightforward process. Unfortunately, merely throwing these devices into the e-recycling bin at your local depot, or manually erasing stored information yourself aren’t sufficient ways to protect you, your family, or your business from exploitation.

Data on electronic devices will likely store and process a wealth of information, regardless of whether they’re used for personal or business-related purposes. That means they’ll likely retain your passwords — to financial and social accounts, email accounts, and databases and company software, like CRMs and Cloud storage. They might also hold health-related, legal and tax papers. After several months or years of use, this amounts to a massive goldmine of highly personal data.

As modern devices become more resilient, and as data recovery techniques advance in step with the technology, it's vital that you destroy them effectively. So when you or your business have defunct data or devices, get help from a professional data destruction company — like us at Absolute Destruction.

Should you or your business fail to properly dispose of data when it’s no longer required, companies and individuals are exposed to a security breach — which could lead to a damaged reputation, financial ramifications, and compliance issues. Further, individuals are left open to personal identity theft — medical, criminal, financial or otherwise.

Here are just a few of the frequently attempted, yet often inefficient, data destruction methods that you should avoid, whether you’re looking to destroy sensitive company data or your own personal data at home.

Manual Deletion or Reformatting of Devices

It’s understandable to believe that manually going through your devices, deleting files, and log-in information item-by-item would be a sufficient way to protect yourself. However, deleting data in this manner is both time-consuming and ineffective.

To the untrained eye, the data will appear to have been removed from the device; however, should the device land in the hands of a determined individual with the right level of tech know-how, this person will be able to restore and recover that data. This is especially true for new devices with solid-state drives (SSD). Having an SSD is highly beneficial when the machine is in use — it improves speed. But it's extremely hard to securely clear files from an SSD due to wear levelling technology, which significantly increases the drive’s lifespan.

Smashing Your Devices

Using a hammer or another heavy implement for destroying old flash drives, laptops, cellphones, and other tech devices might be tempting. Justifiably, you might assume that smashing the data to smithereens would be a sufficient way to destroy the personal and professional data held on the device.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Once smashed or crushed, it’s hard to know with confidence that the memory or the hard drive itself has been destroyed effectively before taking for recycling. Data is routinely recovered, and sometimes with ease, from devices that have been ostensibly crushed beyond recognition.

Second, smashing a device comprised of metals and plastics is dangerous for you. You would need to wear safety goggles, protective clothing, and gloves to shield yourself thoroughly. For these reasons, this method is especially unadvised in corporate settings due to employee safety issues.

A row of five hammers hanging from a wooden shelf. An arm is reaching for the red, centre hammer

Degaussing Yourself

A degausser is used to clear data from magnetic storage media, like hard drives and tape drives. Degaussing sanitizes a device by sending a pulse through the data that destroys the magnets on crucial internal disks. Degaussers can indeed be effective at data destruction; however, having an effective degausser on hand is unlikely, and it can be challenging to ascertain whether or not the data has absolutely been cleared from the drive.

Using a Drill

Another method that’s often suggested for those looking to destroy their data is using a drill. It’s recommended that users drill holes multiple times through the memory chip or hard drive — depending on the storage type in the device.

Nevertheless, as with the hammer method, this route is physically dangerous to the individual, and it isn’t wholly foolproof; some determined and ruthless thieves may still be able to retrieve information from fragments of the device’s memory.


Overwriting involves replacing data on your device with new, arbitrary data comprising binary codes of zeros and ones. This process is done purely to overwrite the important information you’d like gone, rendering it indecipherable. This can be achieved by using specialized programming. Still, it’s hard to know with certainty how many times said data needs to be replaced (or written over) for the original data to be unrecoverable.

Submerge the Data in Water

Technology isn’t as hyper-sensitive to moisture as it once was. Some electronic devices are less susceptible to onboarding water, while others, like hard drives, store their data via magnets. This means that while water can damage the electrical circuits in the device, the data will still be safely stored away.

Submersion in water is so ineffective that data recovery specialists have a 90% success rate in recovering data from water-damaged devices, including cell phones, SD cards, servers, and desktop computers.

How Absolute Destruction Can Help You Destroy Your Data

While some programs can help to clear data of devices, investing in them and knowing how to deploy them correctly can be ineffective from a cost perspective, and confusing for the administrator.

With that, the most secure and effective method for data destruction is to partner with a professional team like Absolute Destruction. We guarantee the safe physical destruction of your data — rendering confidential data irretrievable and keeping personal and professional data safe from external threat. We issue you with a Certificate of Destruction following completion, giving you and your team optimal peace of mind.

Connect with us to learn more about our commercial and residential data destruction, and how we can help you with securely destroying documents at home and paperwork in corporate environments. We’re well equipped to assist your team and safeguard your workplace by destroying legal documents, employee payroll information and beyond.

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