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Thread: Destroying data

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    Destroying data

    My sister wants to throw out an old computer and she wants to throw out tapes for which she no longer has a working drive.

    Are there any programs that will write garbage to a tape?
    If so, my sister could send me the tapes and I could overwite them?
    Otherwise, I guess the best she can do is to crack open the tape cartridges and cut the tape in several places.

    Is there any software that can be used to boot from a floppy and then overwrite the data on the hard drive?

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    Re: Destroying data

    I reckon it would be quicker to put them in an oven at the highest temperature for an hour or so,

    or just give them to Jezza (<IMG SRC=http://www.wopr.com/w3tuserpics/Jezza.gif> ) to play with...

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    Re: Destroying data

    Set them on a large magnet and they will get scrambled and non readable, but reusable.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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    Re: Destroying data

    > Are there any programs that will write garbage to a tape?

    I wonder whether there could be a parallel in the following story, which I may have told before:

    IT Security Manager, standing next to printer which continues to print pages, seemingly endlessly: <big>"What's all this rubbish coming off on the printer?"</big>

    Me, helpfully: <big>"It's probably one of your memos, Dave!"...</big>

    John
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    Re: Destroying data

    So that's where Dave went!

    StuartR

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    Re: Destroying data

    Stuart

    No, a different Dave!

    John
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    Re: Destroying data

    I received the message below from Imation Environmental, Health and Safety Services .
    -------------------------------------
    We do not advise or recommend that the tapes be melted in an oven. The majority weight components of the cartridge products are a polycarbonate or a polyester shell which upon burning, in our opinion, could produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon fragments, organic acids, aldehydes and alcohols.

    Other options to consider are:

    Degaussing
    The magnetic field can be deleted off the older data storage tapes by degaussing. If you currently do not have a degaussing machine, there are hand held devices available for the task. You should be able to find companies that supply them on the internet. Even with degaussing some information can remain on the tapes. This may want to be used in conjunction with secure destruction for highly sensitive information.

    Disposal
    Another option would be secure destruction at an Industrial Waste Incinerator or Industrial Landfill in your area. Imation has had Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) tests conducted per the EPA testing protocol for hazardous waste. Travan Data Tape Cartridges are not considered regulated waste and are within Federal regulatory limits for TCLP. As such, can be disposed of in a sanitary or industrial landfill. If you contact your local regulatory agency they should be able to provide you with the names and phone numbers of disposal companies in your area. are not considered hazardous and can be incinerated or landfilled. If the disposal facility you choose requires additional information on the composition of the cartridges you can contact me directly and that information can be provided.

    Waste-to-Energy Incineration
    Waste-to-energy facilities burn waste in a specialized furnace designed to reduce the release of hazardous pollutants. In addition, the removal of hazardous waste before incineration reduces the pollutants in the air emissions and ash. Heat created from incinerating the waste is used to produce energy in the form of electricity or steam for homes and businesses. Incineration also results in up to a 90-percent decrease in the volume of waste, meaning less waste must be landfilled.

    Recycling
    There are companies which can be found on the Internet that offer recycling. But one should be wary of their methods. There are some companies that offer recycling in the form of degaussing and reselling the tapes. In most cases this is not preferable because of the sensitive or secure data stored on the tapes. Even with degaussing some information can remain on the tapes.

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    Re: Destroying data

    I can't imagine that the data on your sister's tapes is likely to be of any great interest to the CIA or GCHQ, or to any form of criminal gang, so surely any form of environmentally safe disposal would seem appropriate?

    It seems Imation does not distinguish between
    melting (which would render the tape distorted and unreadable, but cause minimal pollution from substrate breakdown),
    and
    burning (which would generate all manner of dangerous gases, particularly noxious in a confined space).
    How long will it be before tape manufacturers have by law to dispose safely of their own products when they have reached end-of-life? This seems likely to happen in the near future for PCs, cars, and so on...

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

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    Re: Destroying data

    > Set them on a large magnet and they will get scrambled and non readable, but reusable.

    This is not always true. Some of the tapes are manufactured with information on them and if you erase them with a magnet, this information gets erased and the tape is unusable. I found this out the hard way with the $45 tapes that go to my tape backup.

    Ronny
    Ronny Richardson

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    Re: Destroying data

    melting also produces a chemical reaction.

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    Re: Destroying data

    Back in the 80's when I was taking a class in basic programming, our institution seemed to destroy tapes regularly. I haven't any clue how they could be so efficient but they were certainly good at it!! <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15> I was always recreating my previous week's work! Grrr. Since giving them to this institution is not an option for you and other than just tossing them into a fire, could you coat them with something - say - hairspray or something equally sticky that leaves a residue that is hard to clean off? Maybe glue them together! Or I wonder what the microwave would do to them? Of course maybe all of this would create pollution but it might get the job done! <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    Merry Christmas! <img src=/S/yep.gif border=0 alt=yep width=15 height=15>


    "Peace begins with a smile. "-- Mother Teresa

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    Re: Destroying data

    ------------------------------------------------------
    melting also produces a chemical reaction
    ------------------------------------------------------

    Do you mean that at the melting temperature, thermal decomposition or some other molecular transformations occur? Melting is a physical change, not a chemical one.

    Another Pedant (though not in the same league as John).
    <font color=blue><font face="Script MT Bold"><big>Rob</big></font face=script></font color=blue>

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    Re: Destroying data

    I suspect that there are several physical and chemical changes that occur when heating the tape medium, any of which would render the tape unreadable.

    If the tape substrate is a polymer-based extrudite (formed by an extrusion-type process) the first significant physical change will occur at the HDT (heat distortion temperature). This temperature is related to (a "bit" below) the temperature at which the extrudite was formed, from solid material. When the tape reaches this temperature, it will kink, curl, twist, shrivel, buckle etc. as the internal stresses are relieved. You can see the same effect by placing some vacuum-formed take-away food containers in boiling water (well below the melting point of the material) and watch them contort and distort. Many confuse the effect with melting, but I'd imagine that information was unrecoverable at this point.

    If the substrate is a thermoset polymer, like mylar/polyester, it won't melt at all, but will decompose at higher temperatures. Typically, gases (possibly noxious) will be produced and a carbon-based char residue will remain.

    If the substrate is a thermoplastic, like Teflon or PTFE, it will "melt" (at temperatures rather higher than the HDT) either in a well defined solid -> liquid phase change, or with a gradual softening/ lowering of viscosity over a range of temperature.

    In any case, many (including those who write specs for manufactured products) lump the whole lot under "melting", which, as you point out, is a purely physical phenomenon, as is stress refief at the HDT. Decomposition (burning to those same spec writers) is the chemical phenomenon that gives rise to the nasty gas production.

    Alan

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