Data Degaussing: A Comprehensive Guide In 2021


Degaussing is the removal of unwanted data on a hard disk. There are several methods to sanitize data irrevocably. Degaussing machine, mechanical demagnetization shredding. These solutions are reliable when the hardware is defective as it is unable to access non-existential data.

  1. What is degaussing and how does it work
  2. What does degaussing do to a hard drive? 
  3. What storage media can be degaussed

1. What is degaussing and how does it work

Degaussing is a data deletion method applicable to memory devices with magnetic media such as hard disk, floppy disk. Methods of sanitizing the data as it no longer has hardware that can use overwriting erasure software. 

Data disposal is critical once it cannot be used as it causes a breach of data protection and privacy policies, compliance issues, and additional costs. The organization has limited resources for degaussing that erases storage media’s magnetic field and physical destruction known as disk shredding. These techniques come with benefits and limitations. Logical destruction for truly classified data is ingrained as a norm. The storage device has a residual interpretation of data remaining on storage media after erasing overwriting data attempts with new data. 

Software is configured to cleanse certain data, files, partitions, or just a storage media space. Overwriting removes the residues of the data deleted for maintaining security and eco-friendly option. Moreover, it is time-consuming to overwriting the entire high-capacity drive. This method cannot sanitize data from wherever inaccessible host-precedented areas. Furthermore, there is a lack of security protection during erasing intentional or accidental changes in the parameter. 

Overwriting is applicable when the storage media does not deteriorate and is writable. Media degradation makes this method ineffective. Overwriting will not work on storage management features that are advanced. Overwriting is cost-efficient but not free and is economical. With the standards generated by the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and technology, assurance of data being unreadable and unusable is guaranteed.

Overwriting is not completely secure and irreversible. It cannot reach certain areas where there is the possibility of errors manifesting, and the data may not be overwritten completely. 

When degaussing is done on storage devices such as hard disk, magnetic tape, or floppy disks, the degaussing process occurs fast with efficiency on an entire storage system. 

Degaussing can cause damages that cannot be revived. It destroys the specific central servo data ingrained permanently on the drive, and once it is destroyed, it renders the drive useless. If the disks are made to not function appropriately by degaussing, the manufacturers may be unable to fix drives or provide replacement warranties service contacts. Securing media is a problem during the process of degaussing. If strict requirements prevent them from moving out of failed and decommissioned media from the data center, the organization makes the physical space in the data center.

2. What does degaussing do to a hard drive? 

The principle of degaussing involves the polarization of Weiss domains. The magnetic field is used to store data such as hard disks or tapes, with the magnetic field being applied to magnetic areas, especially the Weiss zone. The magnetic field in the area of writing phase information influences a verse orienting the magnetization of a specific number of Weiss domains. These magnetization verses are related to the bit values 0 and 1. 

When there is degaussing of the magnetic media, Weiss zone magnetization arrangements were created while writing the data to the unit is no longer in alignment but is unidirectional in erasing the data.

A powerful magnetic field not only ensures the successful elimination of data from the recent hard disks but also offers future investment using the disk having high record density and coercivity factor. Time, cost, validation, and certification are credible sources that a company must have for degaussing.

3. What storage media can be degaussed

Hard disk and magnetic media can be degaussed. Some media types can be degaussed, such as generic storage media, VHS video cassettes, and floppy disk. The previous media types are raw medium overwritten with new patterns generated by fixed-alignment read/ write heads. Degaussing tapes and hard drives make the magnetic media fully unusable, damaging the storage system. 

The degausser randomizes the magnetization patterns by application of alternating magnetic fields. The outcome would be irrecoverable data. LTO, DLT tapes, VHS tapes, cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, and hard drives. The main types of degaussers available are conveyor belt degausser, the AC degausser, permanent-magnet degausser, and the impulse degausser. 

Degaussing helps save time and resources needed to overwrite information. This facilitates company information to be retrieved with data recovery services or software fortifying the company’s security data from threats externally. Degaussing decreases risks associated with emails, financial data, proprietary information while removing the risk exposure of compromising information. 

Degaussing tools or equipment can be heavy as their electromagnetic fields are strong, producing collateral damage to the vulnerable tool. 


Degaussing occurs in only certain types of storage devices and does not apply to all the devices. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.


Related Articles

Please wait while your application is being created.
Request Callback