The many different types of media out there may not seem important… until it’s up to you to properly dispose them. Maybe you’ve never heard the terms “solid state” and “magnetic state,” or you’re not sure of the difference. We’re here to break down both meanings and explain the secure disposal method of each.
What is solid state media?
Solid state media is technology such as solid state drives (SSDs), smart phones, tablets, memory cards and thumb drives. The main attribute of solid state media is that they record information on microchips that store data even with no power present. This is because they contain an embedded processor and interconnected flash memory chips.
To learn more of the difference between solid state drives and hard disks, check out this article.
What is magnetic media?
Magnetic media includes magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs) and magnetic tapes. Unlike solid state drives, HDDs record information using a read/write head and magnetics to create a binary code of 1s and 0s.
Degaussing is effective in erasing magnetic media’s data because it uses a magnetic field to scramble the 1s and 0s. To read more about degaussing, check out our blog, “What’s a Degausser?” (link).
How do we handle them?
These two types of media require very different methods for permanent data destruction and disposal at end of life
The National Security Agency (NSA)-approved practice for solid state media destruction is to disintegrate the data chip’s particles to 2mm or less. This ensures the information is destroyed and left unrecoverable. If you are not following the NSA guidelines then solid state media can be shredded into larger particles and disposed. The goal should be to at least crack or damage each chip to make it difficult to retrieve the information.
Magnetic media, on the other hand, should be degaussed and destroyed according to the NSA Unlike solid state media, it doesn’t need to be disintegrated to a 2mm particle size. Its data has already been destroyed through degaussing. Physical destruction after degaussing simply provides extra security from data thieves.