Choosing a Degausser: Which One Is Right for You?

Every day we receive calls from around the world from customers needing to erase hard drives and computer tape, asking which degausser is the best investment for their organization or company. Data Devices International advises our clients based upon a number of criteria, including tape or HD quantity (volume of media to be erased), type of media to be erased, the degausser’s security rating (NSA, DoD, CESG, NATO, etc.), deployability, and other factors.

The following is a short-list of questions that can help you better identify the right degausser for your company’s or organization’s needs:

1. Size of your Organization
Are you an individual with a small tape library, a small organization or company of 5 people, or a central office of a Fortune 500 Company with 1,000 employees?

2. What quantity of media needs to be erased? Is this a one-time quantity, or will this quantity be ongoing – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually?
If you have a limited quantity of media that can be safely and efficiently erased by an operator, we would likely recommend a manual, table-top degausser. Most manual degaussers are lightweight enough to be completely deployable when shipped within a hard case, so these units can be easily shared between offices or deployed on site.

However, if your organization has a larger quantity of media, it might behoove you to consider purchasing either an input slide or conveyor-style degausser that can more efficiently process larger volumes of computer tape and hard drives.

3. Type of Media Slated for Erasure
Not all degaussers erase all media. Different types of media require different degaussers. Magnetic media – computer and video tape, as well as hard drives – all have a specific magnetic rating, called Oersted, based upon the intensity of the magnetic charge of the media. In general, the more information stored on the media, the higher the Oersted rating, although this isn’t always the case. Thus, LTO-3 tape cartridges and digital video tape have a higher Oersted rating than analog VHS or audio cassette tapes. The higher the Oersted rating, the more powerful degaussing force is needed to reset the magnetic charge of the tape.

If you have a broad variety of media to erase – including PC hard drives, LTO tape, DLT, and digital video – we will recommend units that are powerful enough to erase all of those types of magnetic media. However, if you only need to erase VHS tape, which is comparatively easy to erase, then you have a wider selection of less expensive degaussers to choose from.

In addition, if you are erasing PC hard drives, do you need to reuse, recycle or redeploy the drives – or are they obsolete and slated for destruction or disposal? If you don’t need to redeploy the drives, then a degausser is ideal for your purposes, because a drive cannot be reused after degaussing. However, if you do need to reuse the drive, we recommend using a hard drive eraser. Many hard drive erasers are configurable, so they will overwrite the drive to your security level specification and then the drive can be reused. Data Devices offers a broad line of hard drive erasure equipment that work to both NSA and DoD specifications.

4. Government Security Rating
Does your organization require a government security rating on your degausser, so you can be assured of erasure to NSA or DoD specification levels? Many government and corporate organizations require top levels of erasure on their sensitive data. With our line of government approved erasure equipment, you are guaranteed you will find the right piece of top security equipment for your needs.
The above are some simple factors we use to help guide our customers to finding the best degaussing equipment for their needs. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have about magnetic media erasure, degaussers, hard drive or computer tape erasers, or any other aspect of securing your sensitive data.

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