External Hard Drives: A Guide to Secure Disposal

Jul 1, 2024

By: Levi Hentges , Vice President/Business Development, SEAM

External hard drives are useful for providing extra portable storage for business computers, but business owners don’t always know what to do with them when they reach the end of their lifecycle.

With that in mind, you need a more secure option than simply throwing or giving them away, and professional secure disposal services can provide you with just that.

Why Is Secure Disposal Necessary?

Secure disposal of your external hard drives is necessary for two main reasons: The first is that throwing hard drives into a dumpster or giving them away to someone else opens your business up to the possibility of having your data stolen and used illegally. Secure disposal stops your company from having to experience costly data breaches.

Secondly, a secure disposal process is likely required by law. Regulatory compliance rules in many industries govern how business owners collect, store, and dispose of sensitive data. These laws demand businesses protect customers by ensuring all data is unrecoverable before hard drives are disposed of, recycled, or transferred.

What Methods Are Available for Secure Disposal?

A data disposal company will usually offer you a few options for getting rid of a data-containing asset like an external hard drive, such as:


Hard drive shredding uses an industrial-grade shredder to destroy the hardware, making it impossible to use or retrieve data from it. You must select a disposal provider that adheres to NIST standards and is NAID AAA certified for hard drive shredding to ensure that all technicians handling your devices are well-trained and able to provide end-to-end security according to compliance regulations.

You should have access to locked security bins to store your hard drives until shredding. Any reputable Iowa, North Dakota or South Dakota destruction company should offer both onsite and offsite shredding, serial number-based tracking and reporting, and process documentation for compliance purposes.

Data Wiping

Your other option for secure data disposal is to have the hard drive wiped, where data is overwritten with 0s or 1s, to ensure that it is unrecoverable. However, data wiping does not destroy or dispose of the physical hard drive — only the data — so it is often reserved for situations where your external hard drive will be redeployed into your organization or resold. To ensure the process is done properly, look for NAID AAA certified companies specifically certified for hard drive sanitization.

Should I Choose Onsite or Offsite Disposal?

If using a certified partner, both onsite and offsite disposal are equally as secure. The main difference is whether you want to watch the process or prefer to have everything done at a separate facility.

Onsite shredding offers immediate destruction, the ability to watch, and the confidence in knowing your hard drives are destroyed before they leave the premises, while offsite disposal offers the benefit of being more affordable for businesses on a budget.

Regardless, both options allow for chain of custody tracking and reporting, as well as certificates of destruction once the disposal process is complete.

Why SEAM Is the Premier Hard Drive Disposal Provider

We know that trying to keep up with the demands of technology —including how you dispose of it — can be daunting. SEAM is NAID-AAA certified, which means our hard drive destruction process is verified and deemed secure by the most trusted third party in the industry.

Our team aims to put your mind at ease by offering end-to-end tracking and security throughout the entire disposal process. When it’s over, you’ll receive proof that your data was destroyed and is now unrecoverable, keeping your business compliant and out of harm’s way.

If you’re looking for a secure and reputable provider to dispose of your IT assets, contact us today for a free customized quote.

Levi Hentges

Levi Hentges is the Vice President/Business Development at SEAM. He helps clients build and manage their IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) programs to comply with legal, corporate and environmental requirements surrounding their technology devices; including asset recovery and resale, data destruction and secure electronics recycling. 

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.