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Personal or sensitive information is stored on many of the electronic gadgets we use today. We look for ways to get rid of our electronics (such as tablets, cellphones, or PCs) when they become surplus to our needs (e.g. donate, recycle, or resell). Your undesirable equipment, on the other hand, may still hold personal or sensitive information. Sanitize gadgets and any associated media before discarding them (e.g., your external hard drive, camera, or game console). Check your organization’s information management policies for work devices or personal devices that you use for work to verify business information is handled appropriately, such as saved to a corporate repository.

What is the definition of device sanitization?
The process of permanently deleting data from a device or storage medium is known as sanitization. The data cannot be recovered or accessed, but the storage medium can be reused. BACKUPS

Is sanitization the same as deletion?
In a nutshell, no. When data is destroyed or relocated to the trash or recycle bin, it can still be recovered. Sanitation is a more time-consuming procedure. When you make the effort to fully sterilize your unwanted electronic gadgets, you ensure that all data is erased from the device and that no personal or sensitive information is accidentally disclosed.

How can I keep my electrical devices clean?
The Cyber Centre acknowledges four basic sanitization methods:

Erase and factory reset: On many devices, this option is accessible. The data is no longer accessible through the device’s user interface after it has been reset. When a device is reset, however, the data is not completely deleted. The factory reset command does not wipe data on external media, such as memory and SIM cards, and must be disposed of individually.

Overwrite and secure erase (SE): This process sanitizes all forms of media for reuse or destruction, including magnetic storage media such as hard drives. Overwrite and SE, on the other hand, are harmful and degrade the life of solid-state flash memory, which may prevent reuse.

Crypto erase (CE): This approach deletes the encryption key that was used to encrypt data on the medium in a secure manner. Because the key has been removed, the encrypted data remains on the medium, but it is unreadable and unrecoverable. If encryption has been utilised from the beginning of the media’s life cycle, CE is acceptable for encrypted hard drives, solid-state drives, and other flash-based storage devices.

Degaussing: Degaussing erases all stored data elements on a magnetic tape, a hard drive, a floppy disc, or a magnetic stripe card using a magnetic force. Degaussing cannot be used to wipe solid-state devices (including all flash-based devices like USB keys).


You can properly dispose of e-waste if you are satisfied that it no longer includes sensitive information and that you are not planning on repurposing, selling, or donating it to someone else.

In some cases, physical destruction of the device or media (along with proper sanitization) is the best option to ensure sensitive data is made inaccessible.

Common methods of secure destruction include:

  • Crushing
  • Shredding
  • Disintegration

Electronics that are donated for reuse or recycling assist to keep e-waste out of landfills. Some resources contained in the devices (such as recyclable plastics and gold) can also be retrieved through recycling.

You can find an inventory of recycling programs on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website.