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What’s Involved in Degaussing a Hard Drive?

You may want to learn how to degauss a hard drive if you wish to permanently erase all data stored in it for safe disposal or recycling purposes. 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 machine that generates the intense magnetic field is called a degausser. When your hard drive is exposed to the intense, fluctuating magnetic field, its charge is reset to magnetically neutral state. In case the magnetic charge of the memory object resets to neutral, the data it holds is lost permanently.

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 in the market are the coil, capacitive discharge, or permanent magnet degausser.

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 machines that have larger coils have fans that help cool the coil while extending its operating cycle.

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. There is a short-lived burst of energy that does not overheat the coil during the degaussing process. That’s why capacitive discharge degaussers have a continuous duty cycle. The way in which energy is release may be described as a pulse, and that’s why capacitive discharge degaussers may also be referred to as pulse degaussers.

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. With degaussing, the servo tracks plus other data are erased, so your computer is unable to interface with the device in its degaussed state.
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