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What Is A Degausser?

Degaussing involves reducing or eliminating unwanted magnetic fields (or data), stored on media like computer and laptop hard disks, tapes, cassettes, and reels. The magnetic data stored on tapes or hard drives is neutralized or erased when exposed to a powerful magnetic field. As such, a degasser serves as a standard method for data destruction. The right degausser ensures that your data is permanently erased.

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  • Degaussing simply means demagnetizing a tape or hard drive.
  • Degaussers have a magnetic field controlled in gauss units or oersteds.
  • Coercivity is a property of all magnetic media that can be measured in oersteds.
  • The Oersted value tells us whether a media piece is easy to erase or not. Media with higher Oe ratings require stronger magnetic fields.

How Does A Degausser Remove Hard Drives And Tapes?

In order to understand how degaussers work, it is important to understand the first step in recording information onto magnetic media such as hard drives, tapes, reels, cassettes etc.

Magnetic media have been around since the 1920s. The basic idea has not changed over the years despite the fact that it has undergone dozens of modifications.

Magnetic tape is made up of three main components: fine metal oxide powder, binder and film backing. The tape is moved at a constant speed past a series of metal blocks called heads. The heads of a tape recorder are used for both recording and playing back. These heads are electromagnets. The recording heads create a magnetic pattern that changes the position of the fine powder of iron oxide on the tape surface into a digital record. The playback heads then read this pattern, and convert it to sound, video, or computer data.

Hard drives work in a similar way, but are built to be more reliable and faster. The tape is replaced by a circular, flat piece of metal called a platter. It contains a thin coating of iron dioxide or chromium oxide. The platter is spun beneath a read/write-head. The surface of the platter is magnetized when small pulses are sent through the coil of the head. Binary code is used to record data, which consists of a series 1s and 0, (alternating magnetic pulses and reverse pulses).

Degaussers erase by creating a magnetic field that is so strong it removes magnetic properties permanently from iron oxide or chrome dioxide coatings. This erases or randomizes the recorded data pattern.

Are All Degausser The Same?

There are many degausser options on the market. Not all models are made equal. The magnetic field is generated by electromagnetic degaussers when a coil of degaussing wires is charged. Permanent magnet degaussers are powered by one or more rare-earth magnets. Some degaussers were designed for mobile operation, while others were built for high volumes.

When shopping for a new degausser, the most important factor to consider is whether it can erase your media. The maximum magnetic field strength of a degausser is used to rate the device for various media. Magnetic field strength is measured by gauss or oersteds. Coercivity is a magnetic value that can be measured on tapes and hard drives. It’s also measured in oersteds.

Coercivity ratings have increased over the years as technology has progressed. This allows users to store a greater amount of information on these media. These higher-coercivity hard drives and tapes require degaussers that have stronger magnetic fields.degausser

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Can I Use My Hard Drive After It Has Been Degaussed?

No, you cannot reuse a hard drive once it has been degaussed. This is because the degaussing process not only removes all the data, but it also removes the startup files. As such, a degaussed hard drive will not boot up.

Can I Use Magnetic Tapes After Degaussing Them?

Some tapes can be reused after degaussing, but most are. Non-reusable cassettes contain boot-up or servo tracks that are deleted during degaussing. Non-reusable cassettes include but are not restricted to:

  • ADR30
  • ADR50
  • ADR30
  • SDR50
  • TR-5
  • SLR40
  • ADR 120
  • AIT 1
  • SLR50
  • SLR60
  • SLR100
  • SLR140
  • TR-7
  • TR-4
  • AIT 2
  • AIT 3
  • Travan 40GB
  • Magstar MP
  • M 3580 B
  • M 3570 C
  • M 3570 C/XL
  • AIT 4
  • AIT Super
  • M 3590
  • M 3590-E
  • STK-9840
  • STK-T9940
  • LTO-Ultrium 1
  • SLR 24
  • SLR32
  • LTO-Ultrium 2
  • LTO-Ultrium 3
  • Zip 100MB
  • Zip 250MB

Can I Recycle Degassed Media?

After a hard disk has been degaussed it can be reprocessed for its precious metals. Degaussed/damaged drives are frequently purchased by recycling companies. Hard drives that are complete have a higher value for recycling than hard drives that are shredded. The prices and availability of hard drive recycling vendors will vary depending on the location.

Contact eCycle Florida For Your Hard Drive Destruction Needs

If you live in Florida, eCycle Florida, an R2 certified electronics recycling company, provides a drop-off area for residents and a pick up service for businesses. These services are available in:

It would save tons of energy each year if everyone disposed of all their electronics properly, which would result in a healthier planet.

eCycle offers a multitude of industries such as: 

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In a hurry? call us now at (813) 463-0079