Some of the world’s most sensitive information is stored in data centres. This data includes banking information, credit card details, passwords, and medical records.
This information is stored on server hard drives, which in time will become redundant and be replaced.
This raises the question: What happens to these hosting server hard drives after the servers are thrown out?
Good news is that South Africa’s hosting providers are all following strict processes to ensure that the hard drives are destroyed.
Hetzner said the process of disposing of redundant hard drives is important due to data security and environmental concerns.
Once a hard drive has been identified for disposal by Hetzner, the following happens:
- Assuming the hard drive is still functioning, it is electronically wiped clean at Hetzner’s premises.
- They are collected by an ISO-accredited e-waste removal service.
- They are physically destroyed to ensure that any failure in the electronic wiping process does not result in compromised customer data.
- The component materials are then either recycled or disposed of in an environmentally-conscious manner.
- A report of disposed hard drives, identified by serial numbers, is returned to Hetzner.
“Over the last couple of years we have recycled approximately 4 tons of obsolete hardware,” said Athena Turner, marketing and communications manager at Hetzner.
Web Africa said they follow best practice: “When the hard drive’s warranty runs out we forensically wipe it and then destroy it”.
MWEB does the same by employing a certified company to physically destroy the drives. After the drives are destroyed, MWEB receives a certificate to confirm this.
What hard drive destruction looks like
Many data destruction companies use hard drive shredders to destroy hard drives and the information stored on them. The photos below show some of these hard drive shredders.
After a hard drive has been shredded, the data on these drives is no longer available – even to the best data recovery experts.
The images below show before and after pictures from certified hard drive destruction services.