Hard Drive Shredding

hard drive shreddingThe time for a technology upgrade has arrived, and with it, the opportunity to dispose of old hard drives. Former drives may seem useless, but they’re surprisingly valuable; they could provide unauthorized individuals with a treasure trove of information.

In the wrong hands, old hard drives offer easy access to Social Security numbers, credit card information and other data that could compromise you and your business. Although a valuable first step, wiping your drive is not good enough — today’s advanced technology allows for easy recovery.

Your best bet? Hard drive shredding. By physically destroying your hard drive, you remove all possibility of a security breach.

Why Is Hard Drive Shredding Important?

Regular upgrades are essential these days, given the staggering pace of technological change. Unfortunately, updates take more work than merely researching and investing in new devices. You’ll need a detailed plan for your hard drives, which could otherwise pose a major security risk.

Many individuals and businesses attempt to prevent security breaches by wiping, reformatting or degaussing old hard drives. Although valuable, these methods still leave hard drives vulnerable, as data from improperly handled drives can easily be accessed.

Hard drive shredding eliminates this opportunity by physically destroying vulnerable data. Data wiping and degaussing simply cannot provide the 100-percent guarantee of data destruction that accompanies professional hard drive shredding.

How It Works

Those truly committed to taking full security precautions should precede physical hard drive destruction with degaussing. Although ineffective on its own, this method produces excellent results when combined with shredding.

During the data-destruction process, a shredder physically tears old hard drives into miniscule pieces. Not only does this process shred the material until it can no longer be recovered, it also compacts the drive — making data recovery virtually impossible.

Targeted Devices

Although typically associated with personal computers, hard drive shredding protects against data acquisition from a variety of devices. Laptop computers and HDD-based tablets require shredding, as the hard drives associated with these devices typically contain sensitive information. Portable hard drives attached to iPhones and other mobile devices may also require shredding services. Shredding could even prove necessary for printers, as advanced laser printers and many multifunction printers and copiers have hard drives.

Far too many businesses and individuals fail to destroy hard drive data properly through a professional shredding service. Don’t leave your information vulnerable to security breaches; invest in complete data destruction via hard drive shredding.

The Cure for a Messy Office

Messy office? Tristar Document Shredding can help! We offer mobile services, as well as walk in/drop-off shredding services. Schedule a one-time shredding service, or a regularly scheduled mobile service. If you have a large volume of documents cluttering your office, ask us about our purge services to help free up some valuable office space. We can shred anything – documents, hard drives, electronics, old cell phones, license plates, and more – you name it, we can shred it!

Water Damaged Documents

Whether your washer leaks or the basement floods, water damage can cause a lot of problems in both residential homes and commercial buildings. While water damage is bad no matter what the source is, a natural disaster – like Hurricane Harvey – can cause even bigger problems. If your personal documents at home were ruined or your business is now staring at mountains of soggy papers, you may be wondering what to do with those papers. You may ask yourself if it’s possible to recycle or shred wet paper. Once a paper experiences water damage, you, unfortunately, may have no choice but to recycle it.

What to do if your documents were damaged by water?

Regardless of what you choose to do with your papers (salvage, shred, or recycle), it is important to act quickly to prevent mold and mildew growth.

  1. Assess the situation: What documents were affected? If the documents were soaked to the point of being unidentifiable, try to make a list of papers you know are affected. This will help greatly if you need to request replacement documents. Additionally, decide if any papers are salvageable.
  2. Discard boxes: If your documents were stored in cardboard boxes, carefully remove the papers and destroy the boxes.  Even if you dry the cardboard boxes, they are not safe to reuse. A word of caution when lifting boxes: the bottom of wet boxes tend to disintegrate and give way easily.  It’s best to remove the papers before attempting to lift the box.
  3. Dry your documents papers: It might seem pointless to dry a document that you intend on shredding, but this an important step for two reasons.  First and most importantly, drying your documents (along with any wet possessions) helps stop the growth of mildew and mold. If you were evacuated and returned home, it’s not unlikely to find mildew starting to grow. Second, soggy papers can begin to disintegrate and form a ball, clogging the shredder. Dry papers are much easier to shred.

How do I dry my papers?

Drying your papers and removing water from your home can be done.  The key is to lower the humidity levels and have constant air movement such as open windows and oscillating fans. Do not attempt to dry stacks of papers; rather, lay out each individual paper on a clean, dry surface. Flip the papers over as necessary to ensure that both sides are drying.

Why should I shred papers that are partially illegible?

Even if you cannot read an entire document, sensitive information may still be legible. For that reason, shredding is a secure way to make sure all of your personal information is kept private.  Additionally, if your business was flooded, you may have documents that you are not legally allowed to toss in the garbage; some types of documents, like healthcare records, must always be shredded.  Tristar will always issue a Certificate of Destruction as proof that you have complied with any legal obligations to destroy records.

Do I have to remove the fasteners?

Unlike small office shredders, Tristar shredders can easily tackle staples and binder clips which saves you time from removing those items from piles of wet documents.

If you have documents damaged by flood waters, contact us for a  free quote.

Federal Regulations for Shredding Hard-Drive Data

man shredding paper

Contrary to what most people know, complete data destruction is more than simple deletion of files and clearing the recycle bin in a computer. While the data may not be visible, it is still accessible on your hard drive and vulnerable to misuse by other parties. With this in mind, the IRS has established regulations that ensure 100% safe data destruction.

The IRS Publication 1075 Media Sanitation clearly explains that all organizations, whether international or local, are expected to follow the established guidelines for securing and eliminating Federal tax return and return information (FTI) they receive from the IRS. Once an agency is no longer in need of information it has received from the IRS, it may take steps to return the information or simply destroy the information.

The Approaches Used when Dealing with Hard Drives

There are various approaches to be considered when dealing with hard drives. They include:

a)    Overwriting the Drive

An agency may decide to overwrite the drive through the use of special software. There are several versions of this software available in the market, and selecting a proper one may be challenging. One overwrite is not enough, therefore, making this process time-consuming.

b)   Degaussing the Drive

This process involves the elimination of the magnetic field. However, the use of degaussers requires that the instructions be followed to the letter. Fortunately, the NSA/CSS has evaluated and published a list of degaussers and given information on the drives each model can erase.

c)    Physical Destruction of the Drive

The hard drive can be crushed, disintegrated or shredded. Agencies may choose to erase data through overwriting or degaussing, then crush, disintegrate or shred them. However, purchasing the equipment required for these processes is expensive for most agencies. Outsourcing, is, therefore, a viable solution for agencies. Approved data-destruction service providers will easily collect, reuse and recycle hard drives.

To maintain confidentiality, verification of the selected information sanitization and the selected disposal process is required. Usually, a sample a sample of the media is tested for sanitization to assure the agency of complete protection. Additionally, agencies should document the sanitization of the media for later reference.

Tristar Document Shredding

Tristar Document Shredding is a verified data-destruction company based in Texas. We offer complete, effortless and efficient data-destruction services to residents, communities and commercial entities. With state-of-the-art technology and mobile services across the state, we are easily accessible and promise 100% secure data destruction.

Shredding of hard drives through approved means is the easiest way of erasing data completely. During the destruction process, agencies select an individual to witness the process. The process is expected to be eco-friendly because the circuit boards in hard drives contain metals that are hazardous and toxic when released into the environment.

We easily remove hard drives and servers from heavy-duty commercial equipment and turn them into scrap metal. With our reuse, reduce and recycle policy, we ensure that all the hard drives entrusted to us are destroyed in an eco-friendly manner that is approved by relevant laws.

Clients are assured of our competence as we are a trusted member of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). We ensure that all the hard drives handed to us are secured and that information is not leaked. Our services are quick, efficient and easily available to all citizens of Texas. Contact Tristar Shredding through our website for excellent hard-drive shredding services.

Mobile Shredding Demonstration

Mobile shredding is an easy, fast and safe way to dispose of documents that hold sensitive information. But do you know how easy it is? Hint: It takes two minutes, and zero effort from you! Check out the video below to see what one of our regularly scheduled shredding services looks like.

Our mobile shredding unit comes directly to your location allowing you to monitor the shredding process as it happens. You can schedule weekly, semi-monthly or monthly shredding, although we offer one-time shreds and/or annual purges as well. Our services are charged by the container, box or pound; there are no hidden charges or add-ons.

We don’t just shred paper we can shred almost anything; Materials including hard drives, magnetic tapes, CD’s, floppy discs and more. There is no need to remove rubber bands, staples, or binder clips from your documents beforehand. Our shredders handle it all in one simple operation.

At Tristar Document Shredding our number one priority is YOU. We can tailor our services to suit your needs and ensure a smooth, 100% secure service every time.
Contact us today for more information, pricing or to schedule your first service.

 

How Long Do I Have to Keep My Tax Records?

Phew! April 18th has come and gone. Whether you looked forward to receiving a big refund or dreaded it because you had to pay, tax day is over. At least until next year.

But now, even with electronic filing, you probably have plenty of paper records in a filing cabinet somewhere. Years and years of forms, receipts and documents. One of the most common questions surround tax documents is “How long do we have to keep them?”

The answer: it depends.

If you’re still hanging on to files from 1990’s, you’re certainly safe to shred. In fact, 3 years is the recommended length to keep tax documents in most cases. But there are other situations when you should keep them longer (such as if you filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction). You can review the list of IRS guidelines here, or contact a trusted CPA for specific questions about what and how long to keep files.

It can be scary to shred documents (what if I need these later)? However, it can be even scarier NOT to shred them. Paper files create a security risk. Personal information can get into the wrong hands. Papers could be lost or stolen. Your financial information may have changed in the last ten years, but your social security number hasn’t. You still need to protect your personal information.

The safest thing is to destroy documents you no longer need. And when it’s time to do that, make sure you partner with a professional. You can bring them into an on-site shredder, such as Tristar’s Walk-In Shredding, or arrange for a one-time service if you don’t already have a regularly scheduled service in place.

For more information about document shredding contact Tristar today.

Benefits of Walk-In Shredding

No matter the size, location or industry, document and information security is critical to all businesses. Whether it includes patient information, financial records or other critical data, proper security and disposal should be a top priority. Not only for ethical reasons, but also from a legal standpoint. There are severe penalties for non-compliance, as well as potential PR repercussions that can negatively affect a business. The risks simply aren’t worth it.

Which is why many people opt to physically bring in and watch their documents and/or hard-drives in being shredded. It’s worth it for their peace of mind.

In fact, walk-in shredding has many benefits, including:

Convenience – When you have documents you need to destroy,  you simply bring it in to the center. No appointment necessary during regular business hours, and no need to wait or hold on to them until a scheduled day/time. Instead, you set the schedule according to your needs.

Any Amount – Most walk-in shredding locations, including Tristar’s new Conroe location, will accept any amount, big or small. You can pop in with a single box of documents, or arrive with multiple boxes and several hard-drives.

Paper and Hard-Drive Shredding –  You can go to one single location to safely and securely dispose of both paper documents AND hard-drives.

Peace of Mind – There is a certain peace of mind that comes with having your documents or hard-drives shredded on-site while you watch. No wondering what could happen after they leave your hands. Plus, you’ll have a record confirming that your documents have been destroyed.

Walk-in shredding is a convenient and safe way to destroy documents. If you have questions about the service, contact us directly today. Or bring your documents or hard-drives to our new walk-in location:

Tristar Document Shredding

500 North Loop 336 East, Suite 106-107

Conroe, TX 77301

Walk-in Shredding Hours:

Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Saturday by appointment

 

How to Find a Trustworthy Data and Document-Shredding Service

paper scrap imageWe all know the value of shredding confidential documents, but what is the value of on-site shredding? On-site shredding is when a shredding company destroys your documents, hard drives, etc., on-site in front of your own eyes.

Many people have concerns about handing over their confidential documents containing private information to a stranger, even if that stranger is a shredding company. We understand these concerns. The whole reason people have documents shredded is to keep the information they contain from falling into someone else’s hands, so it makes sense to have anxiety about handing them over to a stranger.

How can you get peace of mind when using a professional shredding service? Here are some tips to help you find a document and hard-drive-destruction company that you can trust:

Research – Do your research, people! Make sure the company you choose is a respectable, trustworthy company. Check any ratings and reviews, and always go with a company that gives you a Certificate of Destruction confirming your materials have been destroyed.

NAID Membership – Another good thing to look for is whether or not they have a membership with the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). NAID membership shows that the company and its employees are professionals who are up-to-date with the current industry standards and regulations.

Recycle – Once you have chosen a shredding company, be sure to ask if they recycle! With the amount of paper that is being shredded by any given shredding company, it’s a no-brainer that they should recycle it and help protect the environment. Make sure they dispose of shredded hard drives and e-waste responsibly as well – these things should also be recycled as they contain toxic components that are harmful to people, animals and the environment.

Convenience – Last but not least, you want to choose a shredding service that is efficient but also convenient for you. Do they offer the services that you need, and are they capable of handling the amount of shredding you have? Do they come to you, or do you go to them? Do they offer regular scheduled services or just one-time services? Make sure that they can meet your needs with minimal effort from you.

If you have questions about document shredding or need additional information about business services or pricing, contact Tristar Document Shredding today.

5 Reasons You Need to Shred Your Old Devices

old cell phones

These days, cell phones are involved in every aspect of our lives: we use them as phones, GPS devices, portable computers, and more. Whether you realize it or not, your phone has sensitive information stored on it. Smart phones store all of our usernames and passwords. They have direct access to our bank accounts. They have email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and pictures of our families and friends.

We all love the convenience of technology, but few realize the importance of properly disposing of your old smart phone when you upgrade to a new device. Having your mobile device shredded is the only 100% guaranteed way to wipe the memory on your device.

Just in case you need convincing, here are 5 reasons to shred your old devices:

  • Restoring your phone to factory settings doesn’t always work. The stores and cell phone carriers will always recommend this option, and sure it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t always work either. A team at Cambridge University conducted a research study and found that 80% of the time, they were able to recover authentication tokens, which are essentially an electronic key to access confidential accounts and information. So 80% of the time, they were able to restore the phone from factory settings and access confidential information of the previous owner.
  • The SIM card is not the only part of the phone that stores information. If you remove the SIM card from your device, that does not remove all the stored information within your phone. Just like the phones in the Cambridge research study, all devices have internal components that store information — whether they have a SIM card or not. Removing the SIM card will remove the information stored on the SIM card, but not the information that is stored in your device internally.
  • Destroying it is not enough. So you take a hammer to your phone … that should do the trick, right? Guess again. Just because the phone looks destroyed does not mean that all the right memory chips and internal components that store information have been correctly and totally destroyed. The only guaranteed way to wipe information from a phone is by having a professional shred it.
  • A little information goes a long way. As technology evolves and gets smarter, so do the thieves and hackers. Oftentimes, all they need is one tiny piece of information in order to unlock the door that leads to much more crucial information.
  • Your whole life is on your phone. From emails to bank accounts to photos of loved ones — every little detail about you is stored on your phone. That is reason enough to want to make sure the information on your phone is destroyed properly, by a professional, to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

When dealing with information that is this confidential, you want to make 100% sure you have it completely erased. Do your research and you’ll find that data destruction and e-waste recycling are the only safe ways to dispose of your devices. When you’re ready for an expert to take those old devices off your hands and destroy them safely, give us a call at 936-788-4733 or visit our website to get a free quote.