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Do You Know Your Shredders?

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We talk a lot about shredding and often make references to avoiding strip cut shredders like the plague. Frankly we’re not sure why they are still made, as they have been proven to be the least effective method of destroying a document, shortly behind scribbling on it with pen. But instead of using strip cut, what should you be using? The answer is a bit longer than you would think. There are actually 8 types of shredder out there, only 3 of which are available for home and domestic use. They differ based on how thoroughly you want your document to be destroyed, and this post should give you some idea of which type would be right for you.

Home Shredding Units

 

Strip Cut Shredders

Strip cut, as we may have mentioned, is the least secure method of shredding, and as such has widely fallen out of favour. It works by feeding single pieces of paper through a cycle of rotating blades, slicing the paper into strips and feeding it into the collection bin. It does not mix the strips up in any way, so you could easily pick up the page and tape it back together, revealing the information.

 

Cross-Cut Shredders 

Cross-cut shredders are currently the most popular style of shredder for both home and small business use. This is because they are relatively inexpensive and provide a secure method of destroying documents. Cross cut shredders use 2 small blade coated drums rotating in opposite directions to cut the paper into small rectangular or diamond shaped pieces. Because these pieces are small and randomised as they fall into the collection bin, it prevents reassembly and produces a much smaller volume of waste.

 

Micro-Cut Shredders 

Micro cut shredders are the most secure of the freely available to purchase shredding units. They are also known as particle cutters due to the size of the pieces they produce. These machines work on the same principle as the cross cut with bladed drums, but feature many more blades of a higher quality. These blades render a piece of A4 paper into squares and circles roughly the size of confetti that are the completely randomised as they fall. In short, you are never putting that document back together.

 

Industrial Shredding Units

 

When you get past the domestic needs, industrial shredders are used to handle and destroy highly sensitive data completely. Think of the security level of police, army, and medical documentation – that’s what these shredders deal with.

 

Cardboard Shredders

Ok so we started on an odd one. Cardboard shredders are more of a specialist tool than a high security shredder. They have been designed to handle large amounts of cardboard and corrugated material, either cutting them into strips of reducing it to a mulch like substance, which is then pushed through a wire mesh screen. This mulch is then recycled into new cardboard or used for compost.

 

Disintegrators

A disintegrator, which not being a cool laser gun (sorry folks) pretty much does what it says on the tin. These shredders are also known as granulators because the pieces they produce are smaller than grains of rice. They work by pushing the paper through a series of blade coated barrels that gradually get finer and finer until the paper is almost microscopic. It is then pressed through a fine mesh screen to ensure it is small enough.

 

Hammermills

A hammermill shredder offers a similar level of security and results to the disintegrator, but it goes about in the a different and much more violent way. Materials are fed into the hammermills grinding chamber through a feed chute (no hands near this one). It is the fed through a conveyer belt where it is repeatedly hit by several ganged hammers, attached to a shaft within the mill chamber and turning at a high rate. The result is a cloud of dust like particles with no paper to be seen.

 

Pierce And Tear

Pierce and tear shredders are usually reserved for materials that are big, bulky or ungainly in some way. Instead of attempting to shred the material in a conventional way they have multiple sets of rotating narrow blades the resemble pins. These blades pierce and tear at the material as it passes through (hence the name), pulling it apart. This is a very randomised method of destruction, and the smaller pieces of material are usually then fed into a disintegrator or a hammermill for final destruction.

 

Grinders

The final type of industrial shredding unit is known affectionately as ‘the grinder’. Grinders have long, rotating shafts coated in fine cutting blades that tear and grind the material until it is small enough to fall through the mesh screen below the shafts. Any material that is not small enough is pulled back through the process. The resulting particles can barely be recognised as paper.

At Hungry Shredder we utilise many of these shredders to provide a wide variety of shredding security levels to our customers. We also have trucks and lorries that are equipped with special containers that have shredders built in, so we can offer a mobile shredding service without sacrificing security. For more information on the type of shredder we use or to book your consultation, get in touch today.

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How To Remove The Hard Drive From Your Computer

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Computing technology is still one of the fastest evolving industries in the world, so it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with the next big leap forward. A few months after you’ve bought a new PC, the next model is out and you need to upgrade again. Modern computers can withstand a lot of punishment from users and most can last a very long time, but sadly we don’t live in a super high tech future where computers will last indefinitely. Sometimes a computer will give up the ghost without warning, parts will fail or you might just notice it going very slowly. Whatever the reason, at some point you will find yourself shopping for a shiny new machine to replace your old reliable one. But we have a message for you. Before you sell or throw away your old computer, make sure you remove the hard drive!

Why Do I Need To Remove My Hard Drive?

A lot of people when selling their old laptops or computers will do a factory reset and format the hard drives to make sure their data is not on there when they pass it on to a new owner. But while the idea behind this is solid, the reality is that formatting your hard drive does not remove the data from it. A study done by students at MIT in 2003 proved this by buying 258 used hard drives, 68% of which had been fully reformatted and subjected them to some basic forensic software programmes. This readily available software enabled them to recover over 5,000 credit card numbers, medical records, social security numbers and other highly personal and sensitive information from the hard drives, all with just a few clicks of the mouse. In short – just because you formatted the drive doesn’t mean it’s clean. Instead you could be giving away your personal information to a complete stranger. It’s a scary thought. Fortunately there is an easy way around this. All you have to do is remove the hard drive.

Desktop Units

For desktop units this process is pretty simple. First you need to make sure you have backed up your data so that you don’t lose anything. Next turn the power off and unplug everything from your machine. Disconnect the internet and fully unplug it from any mains sockets to avoid electric shock.

  1. Now open up the computer case. Each model is manufactured in a different way, so you might need to unscrew a side panel or press a specific latch on the case to do this. The instruction manual for the machine may tell you how to do this, otherwise an internet search should find the information you need if you’re not sure.

  1. Once inside, you now need to locate your hard drive. A standard hard drive is a rectangular metal box the size and width of a small book. Your hard drive could be placed inside a cage fixed to the tower or it will be on a set of rails. Conventionally most manufacturers locate the hard drive near the front of the computer case and will be clearly labelled, so don’t go pulling out any other drives (like the optical drive, for example).

  1. Now you have located the hard drive you need to remove it. Some models will require a screwdriver to disconnect it from the case, while some will have a lever or a switch to disconnect it.

  1. Once the hard drive is disconnected, gently slide the hard drive outwards. You shouldn’t need to put any force on it to get it out, so if you encounter any resistance stop and make sure you’re not pulling something else out with it. If there are cables attached to the hard drive make sure you remove these before trying to take the hard drive out of the case.

  1. You can now safely dispose of the machine without worrying about giving away your data and have the hard drive destroyed by a professional data destruction service.

 Laptops

Laptop hard drives can be considerably tricker to remove, mostly because they are kept within a sealed unit. For some laptops the hard drive is easily accessible through a cover on the underside of the unit, which will be held in place with a few screws and when removed will reveal the motherboard and hard drive. But others (primarily Apple laptops) are a bit more complicated. Each laptop is manufactured differently, so you may need to look up the removal procedure for your specific machine if you are struggling to locate the hard drive.

  1. Firstly, you need to unplug the laptop and power it down. If your laptop has a removable battery, take this out and press the power button for 3 seconds to remove any residual charge.

  1. Next unscrew the back panel of the machine with the appropriate screwdriver and remove the panel. For Apple machines the hard drive is always accessed through the back panel, but for other models of laptop it can be accessed either through the back panel, underneath the keyboard or on the side of the machine.

  1. For Apple machines, disconnect the battery connecter using the tab attached or a cocktail stick to gently push it out. For keyboard access machines you will need to lift out the keyboard and remove the attachment strips in order to access the motherboard. For side access machines you may need to remove a CD/DVD drive.

  1. Now remove the hard drive. Most laptop hard drives will be screwed in and have a lever or tab attached to actually remove it. Once any brackets have been lifted gently pull the hard drive out of the machine.

  1. You will need to disconnect any cables attached to the hard drive by gently removing the connectors before replacing the panels of your laptop.

Of course this is just a broad overview of how to remove basic hard drives. Make sure you check your manufactures manual for any more specific instructions before you start unscrewing things. Once removed you can safely dispose of your hard drive and be confident that your old machine hasn’t retained any of your personal data. For more information about hard drive destruction or to book your destruction slot, get in touch with Hungry Shredder today.