Physical destruction
Delete / format | Degaussing | Physical destruction | Software overwrite

With physical destruction, hard drives and other storage media are usually shredded into tiny pieces by large mechanical shredders. This is considered an effective way of destroying data and preventing data recovery however it can be a time-consuming process and flying debris can pose a health risk. Drilling holes in a hard drive is another method of physical destruction. In order for this method to be effective enough holes would have to be drilled to prevent access to the data. Itís important to remember that mechanical shredding, drilling and hammering donít actually destroy data but make the drive inoperable preventing data recovery.

Physical destruction can be accomplished using a variety of methods including disintegration, incineration, pulverization, shredding, melting, sanding, and chemical treatment.


  • It is an effective way of destroying data if carried out correctly
  • Large amounts of media can be destroyed at once
  • Different types of media can be destroyed simultaneously


  • Physical destruction does not provide reporting of the destruction process which is needed to prove regulatory compliance
  • Hard drives and other storage media cannot be reused and is therefore not an environmentally safe approach.
  • Reduces the remarketing value of a PC
  • Usually has to be outsourced to a third party therefore compromising data security as theft and uncontrolled handling can lead to unauthorized exposure of confidential data
  • The time period between the physical destruction of storage media can create an internal storage and security challenge.
  • If not carried out correctly data can still be recovered from small broken, fragments of storage media