How to Process Loose Drives: Identification, Erasure and Reporting

Targets for data erasure have traditionally been PCs, servers, workstations and laptops. Today, those targets are expanding to include loose drives, i.e. data storage drives that need to be handled outside their original computers or peripherals, no longer as components, but as individual entities. The two examples below illustrate two instances in which you must process loose drives to achieve data security best practices. Drives Inside Printers You can find […]

bernard le gargean

Bernard Le Gargean is the Product Manager of Blancco 5 / Drive Eraser 6, the Blancco solution to erase and diagnose laptops, desktops and servers. In this role, he understands customers’ needs and technology trends in order to translate them into product implementations. He defines the product roadmap, the features priority and steers their development. He’s a data erasure expert that can help customers to improve their processes, increase their yield and maintain their satisfaction.

Targets for data erasure have traditionally been PCs, servers, workstations and laptops. Today, those targets are expanding to include loose drives, i.e. data storage drives that need to be handled outside their original computers or peripherals, no longer as components, but as individual entities. The two examples below illustrate two instances in which you must process loose drives to achieve data security best practices.

Drives Inside Printers

You can find data storage in virtually every electronic component used today–printers being a good example. An office printer stores any printed documents on its hard drive. As a result, sensitive company information, such as strategic, financial, human resources or accounting information, can end up on the hard drive that is embedded in an office printer.

In order to dispose of this information safely, the printer must be opened and the disk must physically removed and connected to a computer or server. Then it should be securely erased.

Loose Drives in Data Centers

Most of the physical equipment found in a data center consists of servers, which are made up of racks containing computer components such as processors or data storage drives. Large data centers have thousands of physical servers and data storage drives for total storage capacities calculated in petabytes.

Data center capacity has been steadily growing. Although enterprises are the main users of cloud storage services, the consumer segment is on the rise due to the way we use and store data. Laptops and tablets are often light clients with low capacity drives and fast internet connectivity. Data storage for laptops and tablets is often outsourced to cloud based service providers which offer large storage capacity for affordable prices; therefore, a blooming digital life is possible without any data backup.

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In data centers, storage drives are purchased and deployed to store data for a certain length of time and then retired. Whenever these drives reach the end of life stage, they must be securely and permanently erased before they are reused or resold. Erasing helps organizations achieve residual value for their drives, while physical destruction destroys the drives forever so that they can never be reused.

Blancco’s Solution for Processing Loose Drives

From a data erasure point of view, these two examples both have a common factor: loose drives as either hard disks or SSDs, not machines at the center of the erasure. Therefore, providing an erasure service and a report centered on the drive makes more sense than providing an erasure report based on the machine. Our Drive Eraser software can not only boot on servers and storage systems, it can also boot in a mode that allows generation of reports for each individual drive. This “report per drive” mode is essential in both of the two cases previously described:

  • We recommended that you connect your loose drives to a dedicated erasure server, enable the “report per drive” mode, and boot Blancco Drive Eraser on the erasure server.
  • Display all connected drives on a single screen. The software can blink the drive enclosure’s LED for immediate identification of each unit.
  • Blancco Drive Eraser can simultaneously erase up to 256 connected drives and generate a report for each drive.
  • Each report contains the hardware details of the targeted drive as well as its erasure information. These reports prove that the data is completely and permanently removed for auditing or compliance purposes.
  • Blancco Drive Eraser can assign custom fields that apply on the drive level to customize the final “per drive” report.
  • Each report can be individually saved on a USB stick or sent to the Blancco Management Console for a successful audit trail.
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In addition, we provide an erasure station product that is easy to deploy and can connect to any storage drive interface to easily process loose drives.

Conclusion

The variety and number of devices that can be used by an individual have escalated since the beginning of the 2000s–the older thicker PC has replaced by the smarter and sleeker laptops, smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, changing our daily life. But there is one thing that is not going away –the rising amount of data and the need for storage. After all, our professional and personal data will always be stored on data storage drives, in some data center, somewhere on the planet. And sooner or later, these drives will need erasing. For more information on how to erase loose drives, contact your local Blancco office.

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