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General Information on Degaussers - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment
Information on Degaussers

On this page you will find a brief guide to degaussers.

What is a Degausser - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment What is a Degausser?
What is Degaussing - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment What is Degaussing?
What is Degaussing - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Degausser Technology
Degausser Technology - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment How do Degaussers work?
Operation of Degaussers - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Operation of Degaussers
About Magnetic Media - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment About Magnetic Media
About Magnetic Media - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Degaussing Hard Drives
Degaussing Hard Drives - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Benefits of Degaussing
Who uses Degaussers - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Who uses Degaussers?
Choosing a Degausser - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Choosing a Degausser

What is a Degausser - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment What is a Degausser?

A degausser is a piece of equipment which uses an electro-magnet to erase or wipe date from magnetic media such as audio & video tape, computer storage tapes and computer hard drives. Often referred to as a tape eraser and hard drive eraser.


What is Degaussing - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment What is Degaussing?

Degaussing takes its meaning from Johann Gauss (1777-1855) a mathematician who studied and worked on electro-magnetic fields. It is used today to describe the process of erasing magnetic media i.e., removing from that media, remnants of previously recorded signals. Data is stored in magnetic media, such as hard drives, floppy disks, and magnetic tape, by making very small areas called magnetic domains change their magnetic alignment to be in the direction of an applied magnetic field. Degaussing magnetic media leaves the domains in random patterns with no preference to orientation, thereby rendering previous data unrecoverable. A degausser is therefore used to completely erase all audio, video and data signals from magnetic storage media.

Degaussing is effective in a range of industries including video, audio, computer, broadcast and data security. Benefits include improvement in the quality of output, sizeable savings in operating costs and assurance that all sensitive data has been erased permanently.

Simply overwriting magnetic media does not completely erase data. Only a degausser can remove data 100% and ensure that confidential data is securely and completely erased.


Degausser Technology - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Degausser Technology

There are degausser models available which use different technologies. These technologies include "coil", "capacitive discharge" and "permanent magnet".

A coil degausser is made of steel core and is wrapped in copper wire. They create an alternating electromagnetic field when activated. A disadvantage of this type of degausser technology is that it creates very high levels of heat. These degaussers often have a short operational cycle, ranging anywhere from one minute to several minutes before requiring a longer cool-down period before they can be reused. Handheld degausser units and conveyor belt degaussing machines are also available. Larger coil degaussing machines utilize fans to keep the coil as cool as possible and extend the operating cycle. Many hand-held degausser units as well as manual and conveyor machines employ the use of a coil.

A degausser that uses capacitive discharge technology generates and stores energy in large capacitors. When the capacitors are fully stored, they release the energy to a coil that creates an intense eletromagnetic pulse. Due to the short burst of energy, the coil doesn't heat up during the degaussing process, thus allowing the degausser to have a continuous duty cycle. The release of this energy can be described as a pulse, hence some refer to capacitive discharge degaussers as "pulse degaussers."

Permanent magnet degaussers can be run continuously, seven days a week, because there is no electrical component that can overheat. Depending on the size of the permanent magnet employed, a degausser of this type frequently offers a greater intensity of magnetic field. This permits extremely high gauss rating machines to erase new 6000 oersted perpendicular hard disk drives.


How do Degaussers work - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment How do Degaussers work?

The process of degaussing is achieved by passing the magnetic media through a powerful magnet field to rearrange the polarity of the particles, thus completely removing any resemblance of the previously recorded signal. Although this process of course is simple in theory, in practice, the vast variation of media formats and magnetic densities makes the correct degaussing process quite difficult to achieve. The degausser is constructed in such a way as to enable the generated magnetic field to be available to the media when it is transported through it, which can be by physically holding the media and moving it through the field by hand, having it automatically conveyed by a belt transporter or rotated on a motorized spindle.

Different media demand varying magnetic field strength, therefore the coils that generate the magnetic field will also vary depending on this requirement. Generally speaking, a coil is a degausser which should have two to three times the energy rating of the material being degaussed. Where media has a security classification, Restricted, Confidential, Secret or Top Secret, a considerably higher energy rating will be required. This rating is measured in Oersteds after Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) who discovered the magnetic qualities of electricity. Further degaussing efficiency can be achieved by using more that one coil in multi-axial orientation; this produces a more effective degaussing field. Even better performance can be achieved by rotating the coils or the media during the degaussing process.


Operation of Degaussers - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Operation of Degaussers

The operation of degaussers will vary depending on the type and quality of media and the speed and degree of erasure required. When erasing tapes, either the cassette must move through the magnetic field or you must move a magnetic field over the cassette. In each case, the consistency of the motion, the strength of the field and the distribution of that field over the entire media are what determine the quality of the erasure.

Most professionals and engineers agree that a conveyor transport degausser, which allows the user to place the magnetic media on a small belt, which in turn passes the media through or over the degaussing coils at a constant speed, assures the most uniform degaussing. Custom-designed degaussers can assist with the specialist needs of bulk operators with belt feed conveyors; collection hoppers are available to deal with tapes, disks and reels, all helping in making the operation effective & efficient.

Effective degaussing is very much a performance factor of the machine and generally passing the media through the field twice does not improve the effectiveness of the degaussing. If however the media is rotated by 90 degrees, some improvement can be achieved.

With the ever-increasing demand to fit more & more data on smaller media, there is now a requirement that can be more important than absolute erasure. That is consistency of erasure.

It is widely understood that data at a high packing density stored on magnetic media is easier to erase than lower density data. The data signal to noise ratios, bit-to-bit phase relationships, amplitude variations all become more critical and require more sophisticated electronics to ensure valid error free data recovery. Variations of magnetic flux, remaining from a poor erasure cycle, will make data recovery more difficult and will result in increasing errors.


About Magnetic Media - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment About Magnetic Media

The term magnetic media covers a vast range of material from audio/video tapes and cassettes to computer diskettes and reels, supplied in a wide choice of sizes and complexities. All of them however, perform in the same basic way yet have significantly differing characteristics in performance and in operation that will require differing erasure processes.

Magnetic media consists of material that is coated with minute metallic particles that react to magnetic influences applied to them. Such influences fall into two types.

The first is the intended influence or signal that provides the desired "Play-back" from the original recording. Ideally the reply should replicate the original recording, whether this is from audio, video or computer data source. The second influence is the unwanted signal, which can take the form of distortion, bioas, corruption or interference and can produce undesirable effects such as poor quality audio or video media or software glitches in data material. Clearly any process which enhances the first and eliminated the second is desirable and degaussing magnetic media can achieve this.


Degaussing Hard Drives - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Degaussing Hard Drives

When disposing of computer hard drives, it is simply not enough to delete, reformat or overwrite the information. The only solution that guarantees 100% data erasure form hard drives is to use a degausser. It important to note that not all degaussers will erase hard drives. The field strength and the orientation of the degaussing field need to be able to penetrate the aluminum housing of the hard drive and be strong enough to reverse the polarity of the high coercivity magnetic particles on the disk platters.

The process of degaussing is achieved by passing the hard drive through a powerful magnetic field, which rearranges the metallic particles, completely removing any resemblance of the original data. Even if the hard drive is not working, the degaussing process can be used to ensure that data contained is removed completely and cannot be recovered. Non-working hard drives contain all of the original data and can be easily recovered. Degaussing provides the quickest and most complete erasure of all hard drives.

Once degaussed, the hard drive will be unusable and will not be recognized by the computer. In fact, the erasure is so deep that the factory written servo tracks on the disk platters are also demagnetized leaving no reference points for the read heads to key in on.


Benefits of Degaussing - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Benefits of Degaussing

The resultant benefits are substantial, producers of audio and video tapes achieve better yields as well as increased quality. Data users enjoy greater efficiency due to considerably reduced "error rates". Professional users in every sector benefit from incorporating degaussing within their magnetic media processing procedure and achieve considerable cost savings by being able to confidently reuse again and again media previously discarded. All in all there is a very strong financial and operational case to use degaussers.

The controlled application of degaussers to the process involved in the production & operation of magnetic media can achieve considerable savings. For a start, many operators who do not currently degauss, simply throw away suspect media that, with a careful process of degaussing applied to it, would have a considerable extended life. Many operators claim benefit of up to four times the useful life of some types of media.

Further direct & indirect savings can also be achieved. Quality of performance of the media has a very high value, although it would be difficult to qualify. Indirectly, there are additional cost savings to producers and to end users due to the considerable reduction of "down time" of computers and data processing apparatus arising from faulty or imperfect magnetic media being used. Diskette duplicators claim to gain upwards of 25% better production yields directly attributable to degaussing their bulk bland diskettes, prior to processing.

Another benefit is that magnetic media is very difficult to dispose of. If it is burned, it emits toxic fumes, if it is buried, it is not biodegradable. By re-using your media as many times as possible, you are adding you your company's recycling programme.

The amount of magnetic media used in the broadcast, computer and software industries has resulted in professional users striving to achieve higher quality and efficiency, whilst at the same time searching for cost savings. By degaussing magnetic media using "deep erasure", created by powerful magnetic fields, users or producers find that previously recorded data, or certification signal can be eliminated completely from tapes, cassettes or cartridges. The effectiveness that this method of erasure achieves far exceeds that of DC erasure (this is the method that is used in hard disk drives).


Who uses Degaussers - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Who uses Degaussers?

Anybody who uses magnetic media will benefit from the use of a degausser, including:

- Radio/Television broadcasters: enables expensive tapes to be re-used
- Computer departments of corporations: allows re-use of back up tapes and safe disposal of information from PC hard drives
- Data Storage Companies: data no longer needed can be easily and efficiently erased
- Defense Organizations: confidential and top secret information can be erased
- CCTV Operators: allows VHS tapes to be re-used again and again
- Audio/Video duplicators: allows re-use of any production over runs and returned out of date tapes
- Financial Services: Banks and insurance companies can use a degausser to re-use magnetic media for voice logging systems
- Emergency Services: Re-use tapes used in voice logging systems
- Hospitals: erase sensitive information held on magnetic media, such as patient records no longer required
- Universities: allows student records that are no longer needed to be erased


Choosing a Degausser - degausser technology technical explanation magnetic degaussing equipment Choosing a Degausser

Points to Consider When Choosing a Degausser

a. Type of media used: What formats do you need to be degaussed? Different degaussers can handle different types of media.
b. Volume of media: How much media do you need to degauss and in what sort of timeframe?
c. Density of media: Magnetic media varies in its density. You will need a degausser with enough power to completely erase data on your media.
d. Type of Operation: Manual or Automatic. Do you have enough time to erase tapes manually or would your prefer an automated system?
e. Proposed location of Degausser: How much room do you have for a degausser?

 


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