Does Degaussing Destroy a Hard Drive?

You may have heard that degaussing is the best way to go when it comes to erasing data from your hard drive. But does degaussing destroy a hard drive?

Degaussing destroys a hard drive and involves using a powerful magnetic field to scramble and overwrite the data on the device, rendering it unreadable. Aside from being fast and reliable, the degaussing process also ensures your confidential information will be safe.

This process is commonly used in industries such as finance and healthcare, where data protection is of the utmost importance.

1. What is the Purpose of Degaussing?

The purpose of degaussing is to remove or decrease the magnetic field of a device to permanently erase data. This will make the data on hard drives, tape, floppy disks, or other storage media unreadable and unusable. 

Degaussing thoroughly sanitizes and removes all data from the drive, so it can no longer be used.

Security experts recommend using degaussers to ensure that sensitive information is destroyed before disposing of hard drives.

Degaussers disrupt the hard drive’s coating and remove its magnetic memory, rendering it useless and unable to store any new information. 

The process destroys the data by randomizing it so it cannot be recovered or reconstructed.

By erasing a hard drive with this method, you can permanently eliminate all traces of your digital information, making it an effective way to protect your privacy and security.

It is important to note that degaussing does not physically destroy the hard drive. It simply renders the data unreadable and makes it unable to be recovered.

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A hard drive must be physically destroyed via incineration for ultimate data destruction.

2. How is Degaussing Done?

Degaussing is done with a degausser, a device that generates a strong magnetic field to erase the data. This device is usually passed over the drive several times, gradually weakening the magnetic field until it reaches a low enough level to be considered erased.

Degaussing is a straightforward and cost-effective way to destroy a hard drive, though some newer models may be more resistant to the process.

The materials used for degaussing vary in their requirements for producing the magnetic field. 

For instance, if media is classified as confidential, highly sensitive, or restricted, a high-energy-rated machine is required.

The rating is based on the efficiency of the degausser, and for better performance, multiple coils can be used in a multi-axial orientation, increasing the field’s effectiveness.

Another method of achieving this is by rotating the media or the coils.

The magnetic field strength of a degausser must be at least two to three times the coercivity of the media.

Coercivity measures how much a ferromagnetic material can resist becoming demagnetized when exposed to an external magnetic field which is usually measured in oersted or ampere/meter units.

3. Is Degaussing Permanent?

Degaussing is considered a permanent data-erasing method since the scrambled data is unrecoverable. However, data can be partially or entirely recovered if a hard drive is not degaussed correctly.

Therefore, it’s essential to use the correct degaussing technique and a qualified professional to ensure that all data is destroyed.

If a hard drive can boot up into BIOS, then the procedure has not been successful, and data recovery is possible. For a 100% success rate, the drive needs to be degaussed with an industry-standard device such as the NSA Hard Drive Degausser.

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This top-of-the-line hardware meets or exceeds the NSA/CSS evaluated products list standards for erasing hard drives and tape media, making it the perfect choice for businesses and individuals with sensitive data.

4. How Long Does it Take to Degauss a Hard Drive?

It takes just a few seconds to degauss a hard drive, but the process can take up to 2 minutes on older machines attempting data destruction on a higher coercivity disk.

For best results, always use an industry-standard device and follow the instructions.

Degaussing is an effective way to erase data from hard drives and other magnetic storage media, as long as the right equipment and procedure are used. Speak to your local IT professional to learn about data erasure and the best methods for your particular situation.

By investing in the proper data destruction techniques, you can drastically reduce the risk of a data breach or other security incidents that could prove costly to your organization.

5. How Much Does it Cost to Degauss a Hard Drive?

Generally, it costs between $50 and $450 per hard drive to degauss. The cost may vary depending on what type of media needs to be erased, as some media require higher coercivity levels than others. 

The number of passes necessary to properly degauss a drive can also affect the cost.

For businesses and organizations who need to regularly destroy large amounts of data, there are solutions available that allow for bulk destruction at lower prices per media.

Unless you have thousands of HDDs, it is not worth buying a degausser; it would be more economical to hire a professional who almost always comes to your premises with a machine to do the job.

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No matter which method you choose, make sure that you have a process of verifying that all data on the hard drive has been erased and can not be recovered.

Doing so will help protect your organization from data breaches and other security incidents.

6. Does a Degausser Work on SSD?

No, it does not work on solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs utilize integrated circuit assemblies to store data, unlike traditional hard disk drives, which use magnetic media. Therefore, degaussing will not erase the data held on SSDs.

To securely erase data on a hard drive containing an SSD, the best method is to use the software provided by the manufacturer. Doing so will ensure that the data is wiped out and cannot be retrieved.


Degaussing is one of the most reliable methods to erase data from a hard drive securely. The process destroys the data on the device, making it unusable and ensuring that all your confidential information is safe.

Degaussing is a standard, industry-recognized way to erase data. 

It is fast and reliable, making it the perfect choice for businesses or individuals who need to protect their data.