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Destroying hard drives, what a waste

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Many financial and government organisations choose to destroy the hard drives that are declared as failing and removed from their arrays. They use products like this which make the hard drive unusable.

What happens to these hard drives? I presume they just end up in landfill and aren’t recycled. Is it beyond the wit of man to find another solution?

First of all, a large number of these drives haven’t actually failed. They’ve been marked as having a potential to fail by the array and before a hard failure occurs, the data is moved off to a hot spare. Naturally it is more efficient to copy parity generated data like RAID-5/6 to another drive than to read all drives in the parity group and rebuild the data.

Second, we are imbedding encryption directly into the drive itself. Can’t we simply create a drive where the keys can be wiped in the event that the drive needs to be recycled? This seems to me to be the simplest and most elegant solution.

Incidentally, I checked the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) website and could only see some nice words about caring about the environment but nothing specific relating to recycling itself.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Pete Steg

    Done. You can get one today (Seagate’s BlackArmor portable drive), or buy a Dell secure laptop with an FDE drive inside.

  • Chris M Evans

    Pete, thanks for the comment. I just checked out the DriveTrust technology which seems to do exactly what’s required. I guess the next questions are (a) when will this be implemented on Enterprise drives and (b) is this an open standard which can be used regardless of the drive manufacturer…

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