Paranoia Industroia
January 22, 2012 12:46 PM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of/destroy/throw out old network backup tapes that have personal information and customer information on them?

I have about 20 network backup tapes from before 2005. I was given them in the event of a catastrophic event on-site and in the event our network admins were fired for cause or whatever. The company is no longer in existence. The tapes have the company's database that includes person information including mine. I don't want these tapes, no one needs these tapes and I want to get rid of them such that no one else can do anything with them.

Some are DC-6525 and some are HP C7971A square tapes about 4" x 4".

posted by JohnnyGunn to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Backup tape disposal.
posted by axiom at 12:53 PM on January 22, 2012

The answer, of course, is thermite.
posted by chengjih at 1:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hammer. Sidewalk. Gloves. Eye protection. Scissors. Beer.

Hammer the case apart against a sidewalk or large rock,
while wearing eye protection and gloves. If there is a better way to
disassemble the tapes, do it that way.
Pull gouts of tape off of the internal reel(s), and cut each tape into a number of pieces.
Put all the tape into a trash can, and stir it a little.
Drink one beer if boredom occurs before task completion.

I think I could do it in about an hour.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:44 PM on January 22, 2012

Pop the tapes open so the tape will reel freely. Pull out a foot or so of tape, insert the end of tape into a shredder. Tape the case to the side of the shredder. Repeat with the other tapes, shredding as many as you can at once.

If you don't have a shredder, pop the cases open (screwdriver and some force. Or a hammer) and cut through the tape with a razor blade. It should take about 20 seconds to cut through the tape and you'll end up with several hundred 2" long pieces of tape. Throw in the garbage, mix, forget.
posted by Ookseer at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2012

The way we used to do in 9-track tape down at (undisclosed gov't facility):
  • degauss using a high-powered AC magnet.
  • pop the sides off the tape and put into a paper bag by either hanging the tape over the bag, or alternately sawing through it with a hacksaw.
  • shred the bag.
  • burn the shreddings.
9-track is wound too tightly onto the reels to allow you to cut it off with a razor blade - at least in less than a week. Vice and a hacksaw did the trick, though. If you have access to a chopsaw, you could do this in a couple of minutes by just cutting through the reels and pouring the tape out into a bag, then giving it a good dousing with kerosene and a match.
posted by Orb2069 at 2:58 PM on January 22, 2012

The do-it-yourself methods described above are probably fine for this particular situation. For ongoing needs, there are companies like this one that specialize in shredding tapes and hard drives. Google "data destruction" if you want to find one.
posted by beagle at 3:00 PM on January 22, 2012

If all else fails, kill it with fire.

Seriously. Although fumes might be an issue.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:06 PM on January 22, 2012

10 seconds in a microwave will solve this.
posted by odinsdream at 3:13 PM on January 22, 2012

Our disposal company wanted some insane amount of money to securely destroy a box of old backup tapes. So rather than paying them to do it, I just took them apart to get the reels out, and then cut the tape into a million pieces with a long utility knife.

The trick was to stand the reel on edge and then press the knife down from the top, so that you cut the tape into lots of little c-shaped sections that spring away from the blade. Wider tape may require a slight slicing motion to get through it, but it cuts quite easily this way and makes a most satisfying frying bacon sort of noise.

If you do it this way, make sure your fingers are nowhere near the blade, because it can easily slip and go kind of sideways on you.
posted by FishBike at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Throw away half the scraps one week, and half the next: possessing only 50% of the pieces will drive the theoretical data thieves CRAZY.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2012

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