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For 100% certainty, zap your data

LAKEVILLE — If you have an old computer that is taking up space you require for other purposes, you can  disassemble it, remove the hard drive and smash the drive with a hammer.

Or you can take it to Visionary Computer in Lakeville, where the hard drive containing all your personal data will be zapped into permanent oblivion, thanks to a device called a degausser.

On a recent visit to the store, owner David Mafucci demonstrated the process.

First he picked a hard drive out of the pile, and stuck the drive into a reader attached to a laptop, in order to show that it was full of data. The drive had some personal photographs, for example.  Then, with something of the air of a stage magician, he slid the drive into the degausser, a squat, rectangular box with dials and a small display on the front.

Mafucci pressed a switch. The machine got itself together, and about 10 seconds later there was a sound somewhere between a sharp pop and a muffled bang.

Mafucci took the drive out of the degausser and plugged it back in the reader, which showed the drive now contained a whole lot of nothing.

Mafucci said the hammer method doesn’t offer 100% security. If someone gets hold of just a fragment of the drive’s disc, data can be recovered.

The degausser emits an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which is contained within the machine.

This not only erases the data but renders the drive incapable of storing any magnetic information.

Mafucci said the store gets a lot of questions about recycling old devices and data security.

“I was looking for a solution that was easy and permanent,” he said. “We want to be able to tell people their data won’t get into the wrong hands.”

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