How to — and How to NOT — Destroy SSDs at End-of-Life

November 24, 2021 at 4:01 pm by Amanda Canale

Since the first days of chat message boards and social media profiles, we’ve all heard the saying, “don’t put all of your information online because it never truly goes away.” The same can be said for end-of-life data and information on solid state drives (SSDs): once information is on there, it’s next to impossible to fully remove. Aside from implementing a secure, in-house destruction plan, there are numerous methods we do not recommend using. Let’s break some of those down.


A major misconception when it comes to data destruction is that destruction methods for hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) are interchangeable. We hate to burst your bubble but…that’s false! Degaussing is simply not an option for the destruction of end-of-life data on SSDs. Solid state drives and optical media do not require it as part of the destruction process because they do not have an inner magnetic, rotational platter that can be scrambled like HDDs do.

However, crushing and/or shredding is recommended. Since SSDs can store vast amounts of information on such small chips, even tiny, intact fragments can hold a plethora of sensitive or private data. This means that every single SSD chip must be properly destroyed and done so in a machine specifically designed to destroy solid state media and produce particles small enough to ensure that no data can be retrieved. 

Recycling and/or Throwing Away

While we always support taking the greener route, trying to recycle your end-of-life drives cannot be done securely and is not recommended. Unfortunately, the majority of our waste and recycling ends up in landfills and dumpsters which are literal gold mines for hackers and thieves. 

In addition, it is often reported that on average, recyclables and waste sit on sorting floors for up to four weeks before finally being destroyed. To top it off, recycling and waste is hardly ever transported securely, making it easy for people to intercept and have access to your most sensitive information, putting yourself at even more risk of a possible breach.

Deleting and/or Overwriting

While methods such as cryptographic erasure and data erasure would allow the drive to be used again, it is not a secure and foolproof destruction. Information, whether encrypted or unencrypted, can still linger behind on the drive and be accessed, even if it has previously been deleted or overwritten. 


ITADs, or information technology asset disposition companies, are third-party vendors that sanitize and destroy end-of-life data and drives. While the appeal of these types of companies can be quite attractive, we at SEM do not recommend utilizing these types of companies when disposing of your end-of-life data. While there are some reputable ITAD and data sanitization companies out there, the risk may not be worth the convenience. Security risks can be unpredictable and potentially catastrophic as it can be far too easy for ITAD vendors to misuse, mishandle, and misplace drives when in transportation, destruction, or disposal. It has also been reported that some vendors sell end-of-life devices and their sensitive information to online third parties.

Other (Un)Worthy Methods

  • Running over SSDs with your car
  • Roasting your SSDs over a fire
  • Giving your SSDs a swimming lesson
  • Physical destruction with a blunt object

By physically destroying SSDs with an appropriate shredder or disintegrator, companies are choosing the most secure method of data destruction as this is the only way to be certain that the end-of-life data has been properly destroyed. SEM SSD crushers are ideal for lower volume data center destruction of solid state media, while our shredders are recommended for higher volume destruction. SEM SSD disintegrators provide the most complete chip destruction and the highest level of security, destroying SSDs and chips to the NSA’s mandated 2mm final particle.

Hard Drive and Solid State Media End-of-Life Destruction

August 27, 2018 at 2:36 pm by SEM

Where do hard drives go when they die? You can’t just toss them in the trash. There’s too much sensitive information on them that could result in significant liabilities. So what should you do? Before you can decide what to do, you also need to identify the sensitivity of the information and type of media that needs to be disposed.

Information Types

While there are many acronyms and levels of information, it’s actually reasonably simple if you break it down into two categories. The first high security information, which is information that is typically found in the highest levels of government. So sensitive that it may pose a threat to the defense of our country. The second is sensitive information. In today’s world where criminals are trying to steal identities or proprietary information, virtually all information is now sensitive. This is most applicable in the health care, financial, banking and retail industries as well as education and state/local governments.

Media Formats

Once you have categorized the type of information, you need to determine how the data is stored? High security and sensitive information is found on a wide variety of storage devices – the bulk of which is either stored magnetically on magnetic media formats like hard disk drives and back-up data tapes or stored on chips found on a solid state devices like an SSD drives, thumb drives, cell or phones.


Means of Destruction

While there are a variety of methods to erase data such as degaussing magnetic media or implementing an erasure software program, in the end, the most effective method is to combine the data erasure with a method to physically destroy the media. One such physical destruction method is the use of a hard drive shredder.

But do I need a shredder that is designed for platter based magnetic drives and another one for solid state drives?

Not necessarily.

While systems that are designed specifically for either platter based drives or storage chip based devices are certainly highly efficient, a combo unit, like the SEM Model 0315 HDD/SSD COMBO shown here, deploys two separate openings that feed cutting chambers designed to effectively shred either a magnetic platter based HDD and/or a solid state chip based device. The magnetic media HDD side of the shredder will reduce the media to a particle size that is as small as .75” while the other side is designed to shred the solid state device down to .375” (9.5 mm), small enough to insure that all of the storage chips on the media are destroyed. Other combo units with greater throughput capacity are also available here.

SEM 0315 Combo

What Solution is Best?

Once you have identified the type of information and the formats in which the data is stored, you can make an informed decision of which solution best meets your end-of life data storage requirements. If the bulk of your media is either magnetic media or solid state media, consider a system designed specifically for that form of media. However, if your organization stores data on both forms of media, an all-in-one combo system that effectively shreds both may be the answer.

Don’t forget SEM is always here to help guide you through the decision making process. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today!

Destruction System reduces SSDs and other Electronic Media to Less Than 0.5mm Particles – Meets DIN E-7

June 13, 2018 at 4:06 pm by SEM

WESTBORO, MA — The SEM Model SSD1-HS from Security Engineered Machinery reduces solid state devices to waste particles of .5mm squared or less and meets DIN 66399 Standard E-7; smaller than the NSA requirement for sanitization of SSD devices per NSA/CSS EPL 9-12. Absolute destruction through repetitive high speed cutting of memory media ensure all data is properly sanitized.

Storage media is continuously cut until it is small enough to pass through a customer selected waste sizing system to meet customer’s security level or a specific DIN Level. Items that can be destroyed in the Model SSD1-HS include solid state boards, RAM, smart phone / cell phone components, SIM cards, USB flash drives, compact flash and even optical discs. The Model SSD1-HS is a compact, self-contained destruction system with all components housed within a custom enclosure for maximum sound, odor and dust control.

The Model SSD1-HS destruction capacity is dependent on the media being destroyed and the customer selected sizing screen.

An ergonomic operator interface allows easy viewing and control of all machine functions. The Model SSD1-HS features an interlocked feed slide with integrated feeding protocols ensuring proper metering of media through the data sanitization process. Safety interlocks prevent operation when any safety guard or panel is not in place or waste disposal is required. An air filtration system consisting of a carbon pre-filter and HEPA filter is also included.

Security Engineered Machinery, SEM, is an innovative designer and manufacturer of data-destruction equipment located in Westboro Massachusetts. SEM supplies mission critical EOL equipment to the US Federal Government including the DoD and other intelligence agencies, as well as large multinational datacenter operators. SEM’s engineering staff is available to assist customers with special products and systems that will sanitize any media / material down to stakeholder required sanitization levels such as high volume central destruction systems used by nationally recognized commercial banks and healthcare organizations. Areas of expertise include the destruction of hard drives and other mixed media and heavy-duty, high-capacity shredders for recycling applications.

For more information, contact James T. Norris, Norris & Company, 264 Bodwell Street, Avon, MA 02322 Tel: (508) 510-5626, FAX: (508) 510-4180, E-mail: