Good, Better, Best: Hard Drive Destruction Solutions for State and Local Governments

May 11, 2020 at 9:33 am by SEM

There are many different options in the market place to destroy hard drives. Everything from erase software, to degaussers, to many different forms of physical destruction. So the question becomes “What is the best solution for me”?

When it comes to destroying hard drives for State and Local Governments, most experts agree the best and most secure method is to degauss the drive and then use some form of physical destruction. While this combination solution is the best method, there are others that are effective that only require one step. Here are some ideas:


Physical Destruction

For most State and Local Governments, this is an entry level destruction option. You can use either use a crushing method such as a SEM Model 0101 Hard Drive Crusher or for added security, shred the drives using the SEM Model 0300 HDD Shredder.

SEM 0101 Hard Drive Crusher

The SEM Model 0101 hard drive crusher destroys all hard drives regardless of their size, format or type (up to 1.85” thick), including drives found in laptops, desktops and server systems. The Model 0101 has been tested by the NSA and is listed by the NSA as the highest performing HDD punching device making It suitable as a physical destruction solution of the DoD mandated Degauss and Destroy process. Check out a video of the 0101 here.

SEM Model 0101

 SEM 0300 Hard Drive Shredder

When it comes to the fast, safe, easy destruction of hard drives, nothing outperforms the SEM hard drive shredder line, including the SEM Model 0300. This slow speed, high torque shredder uses specially designed saw tooth hook cutters to chew up about 8 hard drives in a minute that produce a 1.5” wide particle size. That’s just 7.5 seconds per drive. The unit is designed for an office environment and plugs conveniently into standard wall outlets. Check out a video about the 0300 here.

SEM Model 0300


Degauss and Destroy

For a higher level of security, State and Local Governments may want to consider the two step process of erasing data with a degausser and destroying the media with a crusher. This would give you peace of mind that the drive has been degaussed, which renders the drive completely useless. Once the drive has been sanitized, additionally physically destroying the media makes it inoperable to 100% ensure no information can ever be accessed again. Below is our most popular option.

SEM EMP1000-HS and SEM Model 0101 Crusher

The SEM EMP1000-HS is a compact, portable, and powerful electromagnetic degausser that erases the highest coercivity magnetic media available today without the use of any adapters for onsite erasure and declassification. The Model EMP1000-HS degausser has been evaluated by the NSA and is listed on the NSA EPL for Magnetic Degaussers erasing data on 5,000 Oe longitudinal and perpendicular recorded disk drives and 3,000 Oe for tape media (includes LTO8 tape). Learn more by watching a video here.

Pair this with the SEM Model 0101 shown above and you have a good destruction solution.

SEM Model EMP1000-HS Degausser


Combine the EMP1000-HS NSA listed degausser with the Model 0101 NSA listed crusher and the iWitness end-of-life documentation tool for a Degauss, Destroy and Document Bundle to completely eliminate high security data from magnetic media in accordance with NSA and DoD guidelines.

The added iWitness will allow for documentation of the destruction process, pairing with the EMP1000-HS that has a built in verification system that works out of the box with the iWitness.


If you need to destroy hard drives, laptops, phones or any other type of electronic media, SEM has a solution to meet a wide variety of budgets. For more information on contact us today!

The History and Science of Degaussers

November 6, 2019 at 7:15 pm by Paul Falcone

Degaussing is a familiar word to those who work in the data destruction industry, military, or who work with magnetic media, but the science and history behind these machines may be lost to many. The truth is the concept of degaussing has been toyed with since the late 1800’s, and its implementation and uses have stretched around the world, across numerous world wars, and is currently used across a variety of industries and fields.

With the introduction of iron ships in the late 1800s, scientists and crew members began to take notice of the effects that new metal ships were having on compasses. Over the years, this was experimented with and explored until the first “degausser” system was installed on a warship by a Canadian chemist, Commander Charles F. Goodeve, for the British in World War II.

The discovery came after a counter measure was required to stop German mines from detonating in the water. In 1939, a poorly targeted German mine hit a beach in Britain that specialists were able to disarm and research. It was discovered that the mines had a device that would trigger detonation based on the surrounding gauss level, which is a unit of measuring magnetic density and named after Carl Fredrick Gauss. This meant that once a magnetically dense and charged metal ship entered the radius of the mine, it would automatically detonate and cause catastrophic damage to the ship. It was this discovery that Goodeve and his team used to develop and coin the term “degausser” which was then used on naval ships against the Germans for the rest of the war.

Carl Gauss

To degauss the ships, a system was implemented that installed electrical cables around the circumference of the ship’s hull all the way from the bow to the stern. Then an electrical current was sent through the cables that neutralized the magnetic field on the ship, rendering the ship degaussed. This discovery allowed the ships to pass by the enemy mines without them sensing a gauss level and detonating. They could also “wipe” a ship, which would remove its magnetic field for a few months, until a magnetic field was built up again.

After the war, the technology was expanded upon and used to “erase” data that was stored on tape and magnetic devices. Once computers and rotational hard drives became prevalent, degaussing became the de-facto way to ensure that sensitive data is erased and cannot be recovered. After this history, it makes sense that degaussing removes a magnetic field, but how does this affect the data that is stored on a device?

The magnetic field that is created by these storage devices is actually what also holds the data and information. The information saved is placed in a certain pattern within the magnetic field, allowing large quantities of information to be stored and accessed at the request of the user. This is why a degausser is such a trusted way to ensure data has been completed erased. When a magnetic hard drive is degaussed, the magnetic field around the drive is completely scrambled. The data that existed on the drive is split, rearranged, and stitched back together multiple time as the field that comes out of the degausser is completely unknown from the one that entered.

To give an idea of how much energy is actually used in some of these degaussers, a SEM Model EMP1000-HS will zap a drive with 2.0 Tesla (20,000 gauss), the mandated amount by the NSA to securely and confidently destroy HDDs with top secret and classified information. After putting a drive in one of these machines, the field can be completely destroyed in just seven seconds, making sure that no information can ever be stored or accessed again.

emp 1000HS
SEM’s NSA listed Model EMP1000-HS degausser is an ideal solution for rotational hard drives.

Today, degaussing equipment is still used on naval warships to evade enemy detection by gauss level. Media degaussers are also equipped on many of these same ships, but it doesn’t stop there. Other military branches, executive branches, data centers, and hospitals around the world will all often house some form of data destruction for these devices, and if it’s being done safely and securely, a degausser is present. Thanks to Charles Goodeve, his team, and a poorly launched German mine, degaussing now exists, and its technology and effectiveness will continue to be used for a long, long time.

The Myths about Magnetic Field Sensors

June 4, 2018 at 3:55 pm by SEM

Most degausser manufacturers offer some type of magnetic field sensor. They are designed to measure the internal magnetic field strength of a degausser. These sensors give the end user a measurement that indicates the strength of the magnetic field. If the strength is low, the sensor may prompt the end user to contact the manufacturer. Although these devices are handy, for those degaussers that are used to delete highly sensitive information in High Security Government Agencies (i.e. US Military) and appear on the National Security Agency (NSA) Evaluated Products List (EPL), the NSA indicates that “customers that acquire these products should have them re-tested periodically”. A re-testing through the use of a re-certification where data is actually erased and then analyzed to determine if it is recoverable is certainly a more prudent method in determining the continued functionality of the system.

SEM EMP1000-HS Digital Interface

Many degaussers, including the SEM Model EMP1000-HS Degausser, have built-in magnetic field sensors. These sensors are reliable in most cases because they are designed specifically for that unit. There are also external magnetic field sensors which can be placed in a variety of degaussers from different manufacturers. They are usually shaped like a small hard disk or tape. When using these external sensors it is very important to read and follow the instructions carefully. In many cases special adapters are required. The instructions may have a list of several degausser models with recommended ranges that each one should fall into. These are not pass/fail readings. It is only a range recommended based on the manufacturer’s testing. If the readings do fall out of range then it may make sense to have a recertification or maintenance performed.

The true intention of these sensors are there to help the end user know that something has changed regarding the magnetic field and that it may be necessary to have a recertification or service performed. Strong marketing campaigns have touted these sensors to be more than what they are. In some cases, organizations have made policy based on the magnetic sensors. This marketing is designed so that end users become reliant on sensors ultimately leading to more frequent service on their equipment or potential upgrade opportunities.

Are magnetic sensors a good thing? Yes, they are another line of defense to tip the end user of how their degausser is performing, but the only way to truly check degausser performance is to have it recertified and follow the required testing policies of NSA or your governing organization.

For more information on SEM degaussers contact us today!