How To Destroy Backup Tapes

Regardless of all of the newer storage applied sciences like high-tech SSDs and the rise…

Regardless of all of the newer storage applied sciences like high-tech SSDs and the rise of recognition in cloud storage, backup tapes nonetheless stay probably the most cost-effective strategies to retailer giant volumes of inactive information, making it the favourite backup storage method for a lot of organizations.

The backup tape’s important power is its storage capability. A extremely popular kind of backup tape, the LTO (Linear Tape-Open) Ultrium, for instance, has simply introduced its ninth era in 2020, which now can maintain a large 18 TB of knowledge in only a single cartridge or tape. Nonetheless, this power additionally doubles up as its greatest weak spot: since a backup tape is designed to carry inactive information, then sustaining the safety and integrity of its information may also be a problem.

One other widespread problem comes when the backup tape is now not helpful. Sooner or later, you will have to destroy the info contained within the backup tape not solely to safe the unused confidential information but in addition to guard the group from potential authorized liabilities and environmental issues.

Under, we are going to talk about all it’s essential learn about find out how to safely destroy backup tapes: the completely different strategies out there, greatest practices, in addition to various choices you would possibly wish to think about fairly than merely destroying your tapes.

With out additional ado, allow us to start.

Information Eradication

Bodily destroying the backup tapes is not the one choice. One other viable choice is to solely “destroy” or erase the info so you’ll be able to both reuse the tape or promote it for further money.

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It’s vital, nevertheless, to grasp that the info on backup tape should be securely erased or eradicated earlier than you’ll be able to promote it, or else you’ll threat going through authorized liabilities and you may also threat dropping your group’s compliance to PCI DSS  and different related laws.

If you wish to reuse your tape, then you’ll be able to merely erase, label, and use it as you’d with a clean tape. There are numerous instruments that may assist with this, and you must begin with the instruments/platforms supplied by the tape’s producer. Nonetheless, on this case, the erased information would possibly be recoverable, so there’s no assure of safety.

One surefire approach to completely eradicate the info inside a tape is degaussing, which is basically about passing the backup tape by means of a strong magnetic subject (with a degausser instrument). This can rearrange the polarity of particles inside the tape, which can in the end get rid of any resemblance of the beforehand recorded information, and therefore, be certain that information restoration is unimaginable.

There are a number of key advantages of utilizing degaussers to eradicate your backup tapes’ information:

  • 100% positive that each one confidential information has been erased completely
  • Quick and straightforward to do, so will translate to diminished working prices
  • Meets the Division of Protection 5220-22.M commonplace, NSA, and CESG necessities for eradicating categorised data

Nonetheless, earlier than you run your backup tapes to a degausser, remember that though there are some tape cartridges that may be degaussed after which reused, most is not going to, and also you’ll want to make use of a brand new tape cartridge. It’s because most backup tapes may have their “system instruction” information that’s on the date additionally destroyed through degaussing, so the tape is not going to be recognizable after being degaussed.

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Promote To Specialist IT Asset Disposition Corporations

Should you plan to destroy your backup tapes’ information to promote them, then a viable choice is to promote your tape drives to specialist ITAD (IT Asset Disposition) corporations.

Not solely these ITAD corporations can be certain that the entire gross sales course of is simpler however will guarantee a safe and protected information eradication for you. Corporations like Huge Information Provide Inc. provides you with a certificates of knowledge destruction, which may also assist in guaranteeing you’ll be able to keep compliant with related laws.

Bodily Destruction of Backup Tapes

Should you don’t wish to promote or reuse the backup tapes, or if the retention interval of the tape has expired, then bodily destruction (and ideally, recycling) of the backup tape is your solely choice.

Degaussing, when finished on backup tapes that can not be used after being degaussed (which is, most of them), will be thought-about as bodily destruction, though there is perhaps components of the tape drives that may be salvaged/bought for money.

Degaussing, as mentioned, is essentially the most safe and dependable destruction methodology for backup tapes, so this ought to be your very first choice.

Nonetheless, if degaussing isn’t doable and/or too costly for you, then there are different choices you’ll be able to think about:

Tape Shredding

Shredding the backup tapes, when finished correctly is a really cost-effective methodology to ensure the info contained inside the tape is totally eradicated.

Nonetheless, there are two issues when shredding your backup tapes you would possibly wish to think about:

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First, is that when the shredding isn’t finished accurately, for instance, if the shredded items aren’t quick/sufficiently small, it’s technically doable for unauthorized events to piece again the tape collectively and recuperate the info.

The second concern is that shredding the tape will end result within the stable waste that’s not environmentally pleasant. Probably the most cost-effective approach to eliminate shredded tapes is through landfills, however even then, it’s nonetheless horrible for the surroundings.


One other pretty cost-effective means (though not as reasonably priced as shredding+landfilling) is to incinerate the backup tapes. After the tape is totally incinerated, it’s clearly unimaginable to recuperate any information, making this methodology utterly protected.

Nonetheless, there’s additionally a downside with this methodology: burning your tapes will launch chemical supplies into the ambiance, which can be forbidden in your location. Verify your native laws earlier than shifting ahead with this method.


Securely destroying your backup tapes is vital not solely in guaranteeing the integrity and safety of your delicate data but in addition to keep away from potential fines and different penalties attributable to breach of laws.

Whereas it’s positively doable to destroy your backup tapes your self with the strategies we’ve shared above, we’d suggest utilizing the service of a good backup tape destruction service supplier or promoting your unused tape drives to respected ITAD corporations that may present certificates of knowledge destruction.