Contrary to popular opinion magnetic tapes are dead, they are not dead and do in fact still have a role in modern IT. Many businesses that do not use an archiving solution store their backup data on tapes.
Businesses choose this option because of the cost-effective pricing. The tapes are then kept onsite at a company facility or at an external tape storage provider. These tapes are kept until the retention period has expired, this period varies and in some cases can be longer than 25 years.
When time is up
After this retention period has expired have you ever wondered what the proper methods are to destroy and recycle magnetic tapes? Or why is this important? There are several common methods of destroying tape data, but the security and reliability of these methods vary.
Is shredding a secure method of destruction?
Shredding tapes, if done properly, is the best way of making sure that the data is gone for good. If the shredding is not done correctly, technically it is possible for the tape to be pieced back together and data recovered, though, in reality, the chances of this (especially with modern tape, LTO specifically) are slim to none.
However, as tapes were first invented in 1928 there is a high risk that older tape type are at a greater chance of data recovery. As the data can be recovered even after the media has been shredded if there are longer lengths of tape still present.
What to do?
In order to be completely certain that your data has been destroyed securely using a degausser is your most reliable method of destruction. A degausser will make the data unreadable, and in some cases not useable again. There are chips inside some tape types, and if these are damaged by the degausser the media will not be usable after that. But again we must preface that some older media will be re-usable after it has been degaussed.
How does it work?
The degausser works by passing a powerful magnetic field through the media, this either totally removes the film coating on the media, for tape, this is usually iron oxide or scrambles this coating so that the tape drive can no longer read the data that is written to it. Once the film has been removed, or the data scrambled, there is no way to piece this back together, making any attempts at data recovery impossible.
So always keep in mind: Without seeking secure destruction of tapes you put your company’s data at risk of restoration.
For more information about data destruction with a degausser feel free to visit https://www.ontrack.com/uk/products/data-erasure/degausser/
Have you ever experienced unsecured tape destruction? Was your data recoverable? Get in touch with us by tweeting @OntrackUKIE