Sanitizing hard drives and media tapes


Hard drives and tape media, or magnetic storage media, have a high propensity for reuse, and must be prepared properly if that is the intention. If this media is not going to be reused, it must be disposed of properly. This media includes:

  • Internal computer hard drives
  • Internal laptop hard drives
  • External (or removable) hard drives
  • Magnetic tapes


  • Faculty
  • Staff


How to sanitize magnetic storage media

The acceptable procedure for purging data from magnetic storage media is:

  1. If the hard drive contains confidential data, overwrite the data for working devices (see PPM 3433). The entire media/device must be overwritten with a minimum of three passes. Some suggested software for completing this overwrite is:
  • Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN)
  • Heidi Eraser
  • PHP Whole Disk Encryption file shredding tool (installed automatically for those using PGP WDE)
  • If the device is not functional it can be delivered to facilities without overwrite (see below)
  1. Remove the hard drive from the computer.
  • Contact your department IT support if you need help with this process.
  1. Degaussing.
  • Contact K-State Recycling (532-7430)
  • Once your drive is at the recycling center, it will be magnetically erased using an industrial degausser. This method of exposing the drive to extremely powerful magnetic force is acceptable for purging data from magnetic media. This will render the media unusable.
  1. Disposal
  • Facilities will ensure that the device is transported to the proper facility for destruction/disposal.
    Note: All e-waste must be handled by Facilities.

Reusing a hard drive?

If magnetic storage media is going to be re-used, either by another K-State department or sold or donated to a third party, the hard drive may remain in the computer but must have all University Data purged beforehand.


Review Media Sanitization and Disposal and Table A1-A9 in the Guidelines for Media Sanitization NIST Special Publication 800-88, Rev 1. for further instructions and procedures for sanitizing specific media, including paper-based media.

See K-State's Data Classification and Security Policy for definitions of confidential and internal data.


Article ID: 1120
Mon 11/20/23 9:17 AM
Mon 11/20/23 9:28 AM