Frequently Asked Question

How do I retire/surplus a device?
Last Updated 4 years ago


Departments are responsible for properly handling the information on devices prior to relinquishing control of devices capable of storing information, such as computers, laptops, external hard drives, USB flash drives, cell phones, etc. Generally this means you should remove all recoverable sensitive information from the devices before you send them away.

This page provides some information regarding cleaning desktop computers, laptops and other devices that can boot from a CD. 

Sanitization and Disposal Decision

To choose the appropriate sanitization method for your device, please consult the chart below.

Methods to Sanitize Media

Clear involves overwriting storage space with non-sensitive data. The type of media also determines whether Clear is a feasible method. For example, a USB or solid-state drive may perform wear leveling, which arranges data so that re-writes are distributed evenly across the structure. This makes it difficult to ensure that data has been written over.

Purge involves any method (such as the DBAN  method below) used to make data recovery infeasible using forensic techniques. These are device specific, as in degaussing a magnetic hard disk or using cryptographic erase on a solid-state drive.

Destroy involves disintegrating, pulverizing, incinerating, melting, or shredding the data container. This might be using a shredder on a paper record, or pulverizing a hard drive with the hard drive crusher. The size of the media should be reduced enough to ensure that the data cannot be reconstructed.

Post-Sanitization Procedure

Validation involves the confirmation of action taken to sanitize or dispose of the device.

Documentation takes the form of a Task on the Ticket in the support ticketing system and assigned to the person conducting the sanitization and verification. This task should include the method or tool used for sanitization and the pre-sanitization Security Category.

Sanitization and Disposal Decision

Solid-State Drives

The preferred method for sanitizing data on solid-state drives is to use software tools provided by the manufacturer.

Hard Disk Drives

IT will provide a bootable CD upon request to departments for their use in eliminating all municipal data from their computer hard drives prior to the disposal of old computers. That CD contains Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN), a widely recognized software package that overwrites all data on the computer’s hard drives enough times that it is essentially impossible to recover any data from the disk.

Please follow the instructions below when using the DBAN CD.

Step 1:

Insert the DBAN CD into the computer’s CD drive.

Step 2:

Restart the computer.

Step 3:

If the computer boots up normally, and you are uncertain how to make it boot from the CD, contact IT.

Step 4:

When the computer has booted from the CD you should see this screen:

Screenshot of the screen that should appear when the computer has booted from the DBAN CD.

Step 5:

At the ‘Boot:’ prompt, type the word ‘autonuke’ and hit enter.

Screenshot of the boot screen with

Step 6:

The rest of the process is automatic. DBAN will probably take several hours to complete, depending on the speed of the computer in question and the number and size of the hard drives it contains.

Screenshot of the automatic process running on the screen.

Step 7:

Once DBAN is completed the hard drives have been wiped and it is safe to send the computer outside of departmental or university control.

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