How to Securely Destroy a USB Flash Drive

Three Ways to Securely Destroy a USB Flash Drive

Destroying a USB flash drive may sound easy, but it is destroying any data residual that is the toughest part. Because, even if you have destroyed your USB Flash drive, the data in it might still be recoverable, especially by a data recovery expert. When we destroy any USB drive, we actually wish to eliminate the data and the abstracts inside it. Destroying the casing of the USB drive hardly matters and can be done easily too. All you need to do is just break it into pieces or drop it in the water. Water has the same effect on flash drives as it has on mobile phones, that is, it sabotages the hardware.

However, if you are looking to achieve a complete elimination of your USB Flash drive including the data stored in it, you will need to do more than just sink it in water. We will share with you 3 ways by which you can securely destroy your USB Flash drive and maintain your data privacy by preventing options for recovery of your data from the destroyed USB Flash drive.

[VIDEO] Securely Destroy USB Flash Drive

But, before we move on to that section, you need to understand where your data is stored in your USB Flash drive. Data in any USB Flash drive is stashed in its memory chip. Few drives contain more than one memory chip. The flash memory storage chip is the location where all your data and files are stored. It will be a large chip about half the size of a postage stamp. The controller chip, on the other hand, records information stored on the memory chip and retrieves information from the drive. You need to damage the flash memory chip in order to make any residual data unrecoverable. To access this memory chip you need to remove or break open the drive casing. This can be easily achieved by means of a screwdriver or hammer.

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USB Flash Drive Intact
USB Flash Drive Intact
  1. Blowtorching a USB Flash Drive

    Burning the chip with a blowtorch till it melts is an assured way to ensure that your data is lost forever. You can later burn the casing too to eliminate all traces of your USB Flash drive. Generally it takes about two minutes to burn the memory chip. This is one of the best and safest methods to dispose of your data

  2. Brute Force – Hammering

    Physical damage to the memory chip by hammering or cutting it into pieces in order to make the data inaccessible is another way you can try. If you can turn the chip into fine dust, then there is nothing like it

  3. Electrolysis

    The method of electrolysis can also be used here where the chip is submerged in a liquid of sodium bicarbonate and electric current is sent through it. However, this must be carried out with precaution and in presence of expert supervision only

The above methods can surely assure you that your data will be unrecoverable. If you are reluctant to try these methods, you can also get assistance from data management service providers who can help you to safely dispose your USB Flash drive.

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Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers