What Degaussing a Hard Drive Entails
If you’re considering how to degauss your hard drive, you probably want to have all data kept in it permanently eliminated so you can dispose or recycle the hard drive. Degaussing is a form of demagnetization whereby a device like a hard drive is exposed to a magnetic field that’s fluctuating and more intense. The intense magnetic field is generated by a machine called a degausser. Subjecting your hard drive to this strong, shifting magnetic field causes its magnetic charge to be reset to a neutral state. In the event a memory device has its magnetic charge reset to neutral, it permanently loses all the data it contains.
If you’re planning on buying a degausser to erase the data in your hard disk, just know that there are different types of the devices that use varying degaussing technology. Available for purchase are degausser using coil, capacitive, or permanent magnet technologies.
With a coil degausser, there’s a steel core that’s wrapped in copper wire, which when activated, produces an alternating electromagnetic field. As long as the degausser is on, the electromagnetic field remains present, and that can lead to coil overheating. To prevent the overheating of the coil, an ac degausser should have a restricted duty cycle. Degaussing devices using large coils are fitted with fans for cooling the coil and prolonging the duty cycle.
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A degausser that’s powered by capacitive discharge technology creates and stores energy in massive capacitors. When activated, the capacitors are filled with energy, which they then release to create a highly intense electromagnetic pulse. Because the burst of energy is short-lived, it does not allow the coil to overheat throughout degaussing. That’s why capacitive discharge degaussers have a continuous duty cycle. Owing to the fact that energy is released in the manner of a pulse with capacitive discharge degaussers, the devices are sometimes called pulse degaussers.
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When you need the capacity to use a degausser continuously, such as seven days a week, try the permanent magnet type as it involves no electronic component that’s vulnerable to overheating. These varieties of degaussers are fitted with magnets of different sizes, and the bigger ones are capable of producing extremely intense magnetic fields.
If you seek to degauss any memory object, ascertain that you don’t want it anymore as there’s the possibility your computer won’t recognize it after degaussing. Devices like hard drives have servo tracks featuring information that enables the computer to know how to interface with them to facilitate reading. Degaussing wipes off the servo tracks plus all other data, making it impossible for your computer to recognize the device in its degaussed state.