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Hard Drive Destroyed – FAIL!

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Hard Drive Destroyed – FAIL!

Posted on 20 July 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

Hard Drive Destruction

Fabrice Touree is the now the infamous Goldman Sachs mortgage trader who has suddenly become one of the sole scapegoats for the 2008 financial disaster.

So how does a midlevel 28 year old thrust himself into the limelight as a target for SEC investigators?

Although there doesn’t seem to be any admission by the SEC or Goldman Sachs that Touree was the ringleader who masterminded the creation of billions of dollars of dubious mortgage backed securities, he did do something to put himself into the hotseat.

It appears Mr. Touree simply threw out an old laptop that was later found “discarded in a a garbage area in a downtown apartment building” as indicted in a recent New York Times article.

The laptop was still receiving emails when the eventual user of this “recycled” laptop recognized the name in the emails, Touree, was also a name finding it’s way into news headlines.

An article by the Huffington Post points out that the e-mails received between Touree and his lawyer “discussed how to handle accusations that he and his employer, Goldman Sachs, had played a key role in engineering a near-financial apocalypse.”

This indeed has played out to be quite unfortunate for Mr. Touree since his case is apparently the only one being prosecuted by the SEC.

I would guess that Touree never thought for a second about the open email client on this casually discarded laptop.

Unfortunately, we often forget how much “stuff” is left sitting on those old computers. Most folks are replacing their computer every 2 to 3 years. And let’s be honest, 2 years is not that long ago!

You’re very likely to be using the same online email account, with the same bank with the same bank account number, and still living at the same address.

And, as we see in the case of Mr. Touree, we’re also not very likely to safeguard the information on our computers with passwords.

The above mentioned Huffington Post article goes into some of the current debate over the best way to dispose of the data on our hard drives from using software tools that “wipe” a hard drive to “the most surefire way to discard data” by actual physical destruction.

If you decide to read farther down the article to the comment section, you see the debate rage on about whether reformatting your disk drives is enough, to dropping your computer in salt water, to taking a hammer and giving your hard drive a few good whacks.

Personally, what I recommend is physical destruction. And to take it a step further, shredding so the hard drive is in multiple pieces.

Is this overkill?

Maybe. Although I still get questions as to whether the pieces are small enough.

(I won’t even get into the conversation I’ve had about the NSA and electron microscopes theoretically being able to read individual 0′s and 1′s off hard drive fragments!)

Anyway, when it comes to the secure destruction of hard drives, including my personal hard drives that need disposal, I feel 100% confident when all I have left is hard drive rubble.

Check out the video I took of the very first hard drive I shredded.

The cost of ensuring that the information held on your hard drive will never ever be seen by anyone else again is only $10 per hard drive when you bring the hard drive down to our secure shredding facility. You can stand by our view window while we run the hard drive through the shredder and then take a look at the pieces when we’re all done! (For an additional $10, we will remove the hard drive from your laptop or desktop computer and recycle the computer for you.)

Our secure drop-off shredding facility is located at:

3584 Hancock St.
San Diego, CA 92110

Hours of Drop-Off:

Mon through Fri: 8am to 5pm
Sat: 10am to 1pm

You don’t need to make an appointment. Just drop by whenever you’re ready.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to give me a call: (619) 295-5474

Until Next Time… Keep Totally Secure,

Your friend,

Head Shredding Guy

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Copier Hard Drive Shredding

Posted on 11 May 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

Mike here…

It’s amazing how much information that is held on old hard drives… Information you’ve long forgotten the existence and importance of.

Just a few weeks ago I resurrected an old PC that first was used in my home and then somewhere along the line migrated itself to the office.

During the time at the office, it had been kicked, shuffled, tipped over, and generally neglected.

But I had a need for another computer around the shop, and when faced with the cost of a new computer in relation for the need I had, I thought I might give the old computer a try.

So I hooked up a monitor, keyboard and mouse and fired it up.

To my surprise it started up perfectly fine and loaded up windows without a single problem.

But besides my amazement that the computer loaded up, I was even more surprised at all the old information that was still on the hard drive.

I completely forgot that this was the computer that I was using when I started Total Secure Shredding.

It had QuickBooks Files, old Quicken files (personal financial information), plenty of Word and Excel files, plus multiple email programs that were not password protected and which had a ton of old emails on them.

The moral is that these “Old” computers do have some very substantial information on them than may be putting your business or family at risk of Identity Theft.

And, as you may have seen in recent days, this also goes for just about every copier that has been built since 2002.

In April, CBS News broke the story that many copiers sent out for resale have not had their hard drives sanitized or replaced.

Of the four copiers that were picked at random to meet certain price and volume specifications, every last one of them had hard drives jammed full of confidential information. Adding insult to injury, two of them came from two different Buffalo NY police departments with one still having documents on the glass. One of the other was from a New York Construction company and contained design plans while the other was from a New York insurance company.

All that was needed to get documents of the copier from the insurance company was to hit “PRINT”. The result was “300 pages of individual medical records.” Current HIPAA regulations mandate that the information that was found (Drug Prescriptions, Blood Test Results, & Cancer Diagnosis) must be properly destroyed prior to disposal.

This dilemma can even be extended to some printers.

There are many “Enterprise” level printers that also contain hard drives that must be sanitized or destroyed before they leave your premises.

I personally research and tracked down at least 50 printer models that could contain hard drives. Not all of these appear to come standard with a hard drive but are optional. All that means is that you need to physically verify whether or not your printer has a hard drive.

So whether it’s your PC, your Laptop, your Printer, or your Copier, digital information is all around us and a permanent part of our society…

And precautions have to be make to ensure all that digital information is properly handled upon disposal – just as important as getting all your sensitive paper documents shredded.

As far as my old computer goes…

It turns out that some of the information on the hard drive got corrupted somehow and now the thing will no longer boot up. Whether or not I ever get the thing working again, one thing you can be sure on, I’ll make sure that hard drive is properly destroyed before it gets through out.

Until next time.

Keep Total Secure,


P.S. The reason the data on my old hard drive was corrupted was because of a USB Wireless Network “Thumb Drive” Device.  During the troubleshooting process to figure out what went wrong, I found out that the wireless device’s memory was able to hold the pass code to my networks wireless router.

When I plugged it into the replacement computer, it automatically accessed my network – not good.

So please, take a second look at anything electronic. Who knows what information it might contain?

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Hard Drive Shredding

Posted on 25 February 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hard Drive DestructionHey Folks,

The information held on your hard drive is every “Bit”…

Get it… “Bit”… as in “Bits & Bytes”…. As in the Digital Language encoding all that information held on your hard drive?

Well, maybe not… but I’ll get a little more to that a “Bit” later.

Sorry, not any funnier the second time.

Anyway… the information held on your hard drive is every bit as important as the critical information that is held on paper documents.

The real question is: How do I get rid of those hard drives now that you’ve upgraded to a new computer?

Before we get into how to get rid of hard drives, maybe we should look a little further into how hard drives work and how exactly that information is stored.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to get that technical…

After all, you don’t have to be a computer engineer to know how to use a computer and you definitely don’t have to be an engineer to know how to destroy one.

So without further ado, put on your propeller hat and let’s get a little technical

First off, hard drives are very precision pieces of machinery.

All that information on your computer, believe it or not, is held on thin round metal plates that spin upwards of 7,200 rpm’s per minute. That’s pretty fast!

Every keystroke produces strings  of “1’s” and “0’s” (Those are the “Bits” referred to previously. Bytes are a packet of 8 Bits.) that are transferred and stored magnetically to these highly polished hard drive plates, also known as platters.

There are two very important things to remember from that last sentence:

  1. Magnetically Transferred
  2. Highly Polished Plates

So remember these two tidbits for when we get further along in the destruction process.

Well I think that’s all we need to know with regard to how hard drives work…

And actually, that’s about all I know when it comes to how hard drives works… see, I said you didn’t need to know much!

Now on to how we get rid of these hard drives…

There are basically three ways to commonly used to get rid of hard drives, or at least the information held on them.

The first is “Wiping the Entire Hard Drive”. This is the method of simply “overwriting” all your old information with new useless information – for example, writing 0’s over the entire hard drive.

One item of note is that “Wiping” IS NOT the same as “Reformatting” a hard drive or “Deleting” files on your hard drive. Also, the “Wiping” needs to be performed on the entire hard drive not just segments of the hard drive.

Special software is required to perform the “Wiping”.

Another method is called Degaussing. This is when powerful magnets are used to jumble up all those “1’s” and “0’s”.

Remember that fact about how information is transferred and stored magnetically on the hard drive.

There are machines on the market that perform this degaussing function.

However, the magnets hanging on your home refrigerator won’t cut it! You will need some heavy duty magnets or an actual degaussing device.

The third and final method for getting rid of hard drives is Physical Destruction. And as you might have guessed, this involves getting physical with your drive!

I’ve researched a few different ways. Some seem extremely stupid and hazardous to your health; Some seem potentially practical.

First some of the ridiculous:

Dissolve your hard drive in Hydrochloric Acid. This might work very well, but if you’re like me, you don’t have hydrochloric acid just laying around and moreover, like me, don’t know where in the world to get enough to dissolve an entire hard drive

Even if you had some around the house just waiting to get used, how do you get rid of it when you’re done?

But most important, do you really want to be messing around with acid?

Burn your hard drive with Thermite:  Why anyone would even recommend this is ridiculous. Again, this might work well for destroying a hard drive but if in the process you kill yourself, someone else, or burn down the entire neighborhood in the process – is it worth it? (That’s a rhetorical question by the way!)

Along with burning it with Thermite, I pretty much also include using a welder, blow torch, or plasma cutter. That’s great if you have one of those things and know how to use it, but for the rest of us…

Now we get to various other tools that include: Sledge Hammers, Hacksaws, Drills, & Grinders.

All these things would seem to work once you put on your safety gloves and goggles and invest enough elbow grease.

Here’s the thing, like I said before, hard drives are really sensitive. Remember the highly polished platter part.

Typically things that are not out in the open for people to see but nonetheless are highly polished – trust me it’s like that for a reason. Just a little bit of dust or putting one deep scratch on the surface could really foul things up.

So if you have the time and desire, grinding hard drive platters down to dust will do the trick.

Using a hack saw to cut the platters into pieces would also seem to work and along with drilling holes into them, beating them with sledge hammers and other forms of mutilation.

You might lose a finger or put out an eye in the process, but I guess that’s better than the potential outcome from mishandling hydrochloric acid or thermite.

After all, dropping a nuclear bomb on a hard drive might do the job also but let’s think about the collateral damage for a second!

The absolute safest, fastest, affordable, and most secure method of destroying hard drives I have found, by far, is shredding.

What I mean by this is simply throw your hard drive into one end of the machine and at the other end you get pieces.

That’s it – no hammers, explosives, acid, or anything else…

And if you could do that quickly, let’s say in about 30 seconds, so you could watch everything take place while you wait…

Ding, Ding, Ding… I think we have a winner!

The only thing about this method is that, well, the hard drive is done. Goodbye. No More Work.

With the “Wiping” and “Degaussing” methods mentioned above, you can use the hard drives again.

But in reality, who’s getting rid of great hard drives?

The hard drive that was great three years ago is no longer big enough to run the latest version of windows much less anything else.

So who wants your old hard drives, not many… Especially when you consider how affordable new ones are.

So I went out looking for a shredding solution where the proof of destruction was irrefutable.

I didn’t want a machine that worked some sort of “degaussing” or “wiping” magic on your hard drive.

You want proof! You want your hard drive reduced to pieces!

Once your hard drive, especially those platters, is in pieces, it is virtually impossible to pull information off the pieces.

It would literally take upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 dollars, an electron microscope, and hundreds of painstaking hours to pull information off a hard drive platter that is in multiple pieces.

But before you get too excited… I do have one piece of bad news…

Although my hard drive shredder is on order, it won’t be here until March 22nd. As of writing this, that’s just less than four weeks away.

So please, I beg you, put away the hydrochloric acid, the thermite, or any other dangerous technique you’ve devised to obliterate your hard drive.

Four weeks really isn’t that long – I PROMISE!

While we’re waiting for the new hard drive shredder to arrive, feel free to check out the new Total Secure Shredding, Inc. Hard Drive Web Page and let me know what you think.

It’s under construction; nothing is final (including prices). So what you see today could be completely different by March 22nd.

I look forward to your comments.

Until Next Time,

Keep Totally Secure,


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