Looking to buy degausser units for your business?
If you are looking to buy a degausser, you should consider the types of units available and the technology they use carefully before making a purchase. What criteria should an organization use to buy degaussers that will best fit their needs?
Some of the considerations to keep in mind are computer tape or hard drive quantity (volume of media to be erased), type of media to be erased (low Oersted or high Oersted), the degausser’s security rating (NSA, DoD, CESG, NATO, etc.), deployability, budget, and other factors.
The following is a list of questions that can help you better identify the right degausser for your organization’s needs and be able to buy degaussers with confidence before speaking to a data security resource retailer like Data Devices International:
1. Size of your Organization
Are you an individual with a small tape library, a small organization or company of 100 people, or a central office of a Fortune 500 Company with 1,000 employees? In general, the larger the organization, the more magnetic media that needs to be erased. A larger organization may also need to buy a degausser that is capable of erasing a broader variety of media in order to service all of its employees.
2. What Quantity of Media Needs To Be Erased?
Is this a one-time quantity, or will this quantity be ongoing – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually?
If you have a limited quantity of media that can be safely and efficiently erased by an operator, a manual, table-top degausser may be more appropriate than a large, heavy conveyor unit that can handle thousands of tapes in an hour. Most manual degaussers are lightweight enough to be completely deployable when shipped within a hard case, so these units can be easily shared between offices or deployed directly to the worksite.
However, if your organization has a larger quantity of media that needs degaussing, and this quantity is produced at ongoing intervals – say, 100 to 1,000 hard drives per month – it would be prudent to consider purchasing either an input slide or conveyor-style degausser that can more efficiently process larger volumes of computer tape and hard drives.
3. Type of Media Slated for Erasure
There is a lot of conflicting information on the Web about whether degaussing works completely and is a viable means of erasing your media securely. For example, one popular tech “know it all” actually recommends users get out a drill and drill holes through their drive rather than “wave a big magnet around.” This doesn’t actually work, as the information not destroyed by the holes can be recovered. However, there actually is some limited degree of logic in this, as not all degaussers erase all media. For example, if a user tries to erase a hard drive with a hand-held degausser that is only powerful enough to erase VHS tape, the degaussing force won’t be powerful enough to saturate the hard drive and reset its magnetic field – so it won’t erase the data. Each unique type of media requires a degausser powerful enough to erase it.
Degaussing is actually a very safe, reliable and effective way of erasing computer hard drives and tape. If it weren’t, degaussing and degaussers would not be approved as a means of top secret data erasure by the NSA (National Security Administration). The NSA approves specific degaussers for specific media to guarantee that the media will be completely erased. It is critical to select a degausser with enough power (gauss rating) to completely erase the type of media selected.
Magnetic media – computer, video and audio tape, as well as hard drives – all have a specific magnetic rating (Oersted), based upon the intensity of the magnetic charge of the media. In general, the more information stored on the media, the higher the Oersted rating, although this isn’t always the case. Thus, LTO-4 tape cartridges and digital video tape have higher Oersted ratings (2710 Oe and 2200 Oe, respectively) than analog VHS or audio cassette tapes (650 Oe). The higher the Oersted rating, the more powerful degaussing force is needed to reset the magnetic charge of the tape. LTO-4 tape cartridges require a degausser that is approximately five times more powerful than a degausser strong enough to erase VHS tape.
If you have a broad variety of media to erase – including PC hard drives, LTO tape, DLT, and digital video – you need to buy a degausser powerful enough to erase all of those types of magnetic media. However, if you only need to erase VHS tape, which is comparatively easy to erase, then you have a wider selection of less expensive degaussers to choose from, including hand-held degaussers, desktop, manual table-top, conveyor and drawer.
In addition, if you are erasing PC hard drives, do you need to reuse, recycle or redeploy the drives – or are they obsolete and slated for destruction or disposal? If you don’t need to redeploy the drives, then a degausser is ideal for your purposes, because a drive cannot be reused after having been properly degaussed. However, if you do need to reuse the drive, we recommend using a hard drive eraser. Many hard drive erasers are configurable, so they will overwrite the drive to your security level specification and then the drive can be reused.
4. Does Your Organization Require a Government Certified Degausser?
Does your organization require a government security rating on your brand new degausser, so you can be assured of security erasure to NSA or DoD specification? Many government and corporate organizations require top levels of erasure on their sensitive data. Now that laws have been passed, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, organizations are often required to purchase equipment that meets these stringent standards for data security or face steep legal penalties – or worse, jail time for negligent executives.