Disposal, wiping, and shredding

All critical information assets must be disposed of securely. Secure disposal means deleting information from media in a way that ensures the data is not recoverable. Never discard or leave any critical information in an area accessible to the public.

Deletion is not enough

Most methods of deleting a file from a computer’s hard drive only remove pointers to the actual file — they do not remove the information itself. Most system utilities, and even ways to re-format the hard drive, do not remove the information either.

If you are still actively using the hard drive and are deleting small amounts of critical information (such as a column of SSNs in an old spreadsheet), it is fine to use normal deletion methods and then delete your deleted items.

However, if you are disposing of a hard drive or any storage media, IU policy requires wiping or destroying them prior to disposal or transfer outside the university.

Disk wiping utilities

Many utilities will securely wipe a disk or other storage media prior to disposal. Check with your computing support professional about preferred tools, or see: Securely wipe disk drives

Hard drive destruction

Destroying the hard drive/storage media is often most effective, and IU provides the IU Surplus Data Destruction Service for IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

For more information, see: Secure Data Removal

Shredding paper

A list of approved document destruction vendors is available on Purchasing's “Document Storage & Destruction” page.