Current Recommended Practices for Destroying Data and/or Data Devices

(as approved by WGIS on 2006-05-18)

Portable storage devices

Apply the same procedures used for the disposal of paper records.  Options available include:

  • Shredders:  There are many types of shredders on the market that can be used to dispose of CDs, magnetic tape, etc.  Purchasing can provide recommendations if desired.
  • Western Archives’ confidential records disposal process:  If the local unit does not have appropriate equipment for disposing of portable storage devices, use the confidential records disposal process ( 

Removing data from hard drives

  • Workstations:  Use DBAN ( to fully 'sanitize' the hard drive.    Options include:
    • Self service:  download the software from Sourceforge ( and follow the instructions provided
    • ITS Support:  contact the Unit Onsite Support Team Leader in ITS to arrange for assistance.
  • Servers:  Use a low level format plus a random write/delete procedure appropriate for the operating system in use.  Options include:
    • Self service:  local systems administrator will determine most appropriate procedure for the specific server.
    • ITS Support:  contact the Unit Onsite Support Team Leader in ITS to arrange for assistance. 

Destroying hard drives

When data cannot be fully removed from a hard drive, the hard drive MUST be removed from the workstation or server and physically destroyed.  Options available include:

Disposal of Computer Equipment

Physical Plant provides an environmentally sound disposal service for computer equipment.  Items accepted for disposal via a recycling stream are computer monitors, keyboards, hard drives, telephones.  There is no charge for disposal via the recycling stream.  All material collected is recycled; precious metals are collected from the various components; all material is shredded. Monitors are shipped to a crushing facility were the lead is recovered.  The remaining glass and plastic is also crushed and recovered.

Follow these steps to make effective use of this service:

  1. All electronic equipment to be disposed of must first be removed from the current inventory list. This is the responsibility of the department and must be carried out through the appropriate methods.  It is also the responsibility of the department to ensure that all data is deleted prior to disposal.
  2. Small quantities (i.e. 3-4 units) can be dropped off at the building's loading dock.  The items should be placed so that they do not restrict or impede the use of the dock area.  A call should be placed to the Work Control Centre at 83304 advising them that the equipment is ready for pickup.
  3. For larger quantities call the Work Control Centre at 83304 to have a large cardboard box placed at the dock to collect the items.   Call again when the box is ready for pickup; it will be removed within two days.
  4. If the originating department requests that the items be moved from an office, or assistance is required to transfer items from areas other than a loading dock, the appropriate labour charges will apply. Call the Work Control Centre at 83304 to make arrangements. A speed code will be required prior to the work being carried out.

For further assistance or information, contact:

  • Western Archives for assistance with records retention and disposal processes (ext. 81111)
  • ITS Unit Onsite Support for assistance with removing data from hard drives (ext. 83800)
  • Purchasing for assistance with the asset disposal process and/or purchase of shredding equipment (ext. 84583)
  • PPD Work Control Centre for assistance with disposing of computer equipment (ext. 83304)
  • EcoShred for assistance with the disposal of hard drives (current price is $50.00 each) [519-457-3950]
  • Chair of WGIS for assistance with understanding the accountabilities involved or advice regarding special situations
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