What is the best way to destroy a hard drive?

If you have old hard drives laying around, you probably already know it’s a bad idea to throw these into a general waste bin. Whether your hard drive contains personal files or work files, you should ensure the data is irretrievable when disposing of the device. For this reason, destruction is the only real option for hard drives that are no longer needed.

So, what is the best way to destroy a hard drive?


When you imagine a shredder, you probably think of small home or office shredders that can destroy a few bits of paper at a time. Industrial shredders, like those on board our vehicles and at our secure destruction facilities, can make light work of hard drives and most other materials.

Shredding is a suitable way to destroy hard drives, especially when you use a reputable shredding service provider. If we shredded your hard drives, for instance, we would mix your shredded fragments with fragments belonging to other customers. The pieces would be impossible to reassemble. Not only that, but we also send all metal from this process to metal refineries, and nothing ends up in landfill.


Degaussing is a great way of permanently erasing data stored on magnetic media devices such as hard drives. Degaussers are, in simple terms, very strong magnets. When you store files on a magnetic device, the magnetic force deployed by a powerful degausser can erase all of those magnetic bits of information. The downside of this method is that degaussers can be very expensive to buy and are large, making them difficult to store. Because of this, many people who want to erase data on their hard drives opt for degaussing services.

Why not just delete the files?

Even if you were to delete all files and factory reset your hard drive, data could still be retrievable. Modern software applications exist that can retrieve deleted files easily. Without overwriting those files or completely erasing their binary code (as degaussing does), a seasoned data thief could recover the files you thought were gone in minutes.

Degaussing and shredding

The surest method of destroying a hard drive, for ultimate peace of mind, is the combination of degaussing and shredding. This ensures that data is completely wiped and the devices are impossible to reassemble. If you need a shredding service, a degaussing service, or both, this is something we can facilitate. Feel free to get in touch with our team to get a quote.

So, we’ve spoken about shredding and degaussing.

Why are other methods of destroying a hard drive not sufficient?

Here are some answers to the web’s most frequently asked hard drive destruction questions.

Does hitting a hard drive with a hammer destroy it?

Hitting a hard drive with a hammer will not completely destroy the hard drive and the data on it. You would have to smash the hard drive into tiny fragments to achieve the same result as shredding would. The process of doing this would be arduous, time-consuming, and could result in injury. The best way to destroy a hard drive is with an industrial shredder.

Can you destroy a hard drive by putting it in water?

No. Water may destroy the electronic components of the hard drive, but it will not alter the magnetic data (your files).

Does drilling a hole in a hard drive destroy it?

No. While you may be unable to use the hard drive, the magnetic data still intact on the device could be retrieved.

Can you destroy a hard drive by microwaving it?

Absolutely not. Do not attempt to destroy anything by putting it in a microwave, especially metals. This is incredibly dangerous. If you need to destroy a hard drive and the data on it, the best methods are shredding and degaussing.

Will burning a hard drive destroy it?

While it’s probably possible to destroy a hard drive by burning it, the fire would have to be incredibly hot to destroy metal elements. We do not recommend starting a fire to destroy your hard drives. The fire risk alone is very dangerous and there is also the secondary risk of breathing in toxic fumes.

Should I destroy my hard drives before recycling them?

Yes. You should destroy hard drives before recycling to ensure your data is not retrievable.

Can you truly erase hard drives?

Yes. You can erase hard drives with a powerful degausser. If you do not have a degausser, a reputable data destruction company like Shred Station can facilitate a degaussing service for you.

How do I dispose of a hard drive UK?

You simply give Shred Station a call on 01603 558 184 and we’ll do the rest. 😊 Our services are UK-wide and our security-vetted operatives can destroy hard drives quickly and securely.

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