Hard Drive Disposal in the Cloud

Everybody knows that hard drives go bad. Some give up the ghost sooner, while others beat the odds, but eventually the storage grim reaper comes for all of them. When you have a data center full of hard drives, for example if you’re running a Cloud, then bad drives are a daily occurrence. In fact, given that so much of the Cloud operational environment is (or should be) fully automated, replacing bad hard drives might be most of what your techs do to while away their workdays.

So, what do you do with all those bad drives? Remember, just because your drive has a problem doesn’t mean that a nefarious and persistent hacker couldn’t get some of your confidential information off it. Google, for example, takes bad hard drives and puts them into an industrial press, which deforms the platters so they won’t spin, and then runs the entire drive, case and all, through a big shredder. All that’s left are little bits of tech detritus even James Bond’s Q couldn’t make any sense out of.

Chances are, however, your data center is fresh out of industrial presses and shredders. Such items are not on your typical data center buildout wish list, after all. And what about your Cloud provider? I’m sure Amazon takes similar steps to Google, but what if your Cloud provider is a smaller, less experienced player? Or perhaps you have a hosted Private Cloud. What hard drive disposal process does your hosting provider go through?

This issue, of course, predates the Cloud. Any data center has had to dispose of bad drives since we first started putting hard drives into them. But now that we have the Cloud, you as the customer may not have any visibility or control over what your Cloud provider does with bad hard drives. Perhaps it’s time to ask them?

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