Is it necessary to completely destroy the computer or hard drive to prevent data theft? Experts say no, but tech companies aren’t convinced. Tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon as well as banks and government agencies or law enforcement destroy millions of perfectly working servers and hard drives every year for fear that hackers could steal data from restored normal devices.
The Financial Times report estimates that every year tens of millions of servers, hard drives, solid-state drives, and the like are destroyed by corporations or government agencies that no longer need them and are not emptying them for resale or a donation. This not only creates a large amount of technological waste but also has a strong environmental impact since both the destruction and the manufacture of new hardware are polluting processes that consume a lot of energy.
In many cases, the destroyed devices were in good condition and perfectly usable, but companies retired them because better devices were available or they were no longer needed. Used servers and hard drives could be completely erased and then sold to second-hand or recycling companies or donated to disadvantaged countries, NGOs, or schools.
Company employees say this is to prevent hackers from stealing customer data stored on the hardware since a breach could lead to lawsuits or damage the company’s reputation.
But experts believe that as Felice Alfieri of the European Commission said, the data on the storage media has indeed been corrupted and cannot be recovered, with quality erasing software guaranteed. On the other hand, it’s faster and cheaper for the company itself to destroy servers and hard drives than to reseat and tune the hardware and then replace it with spares to sell or donate.