Information and FAQs on Electronic Media Destruction Services

Electronic Media Destruction Services at the Federal Records Centers

The Federal Records Centers (FRCs) now offer media degaussing and destruction services for records stored on hard drives and removable media (CDs, DVDs, videotapes, diskettes, magnetic tapes, cartridges, microfilm, etc.).

When the records on your electronic media reach the end of their prescribed retention period, FRCs can securely degauss (erase) and/or shred your electronic media in industrial disintegrators, bag and dispose of the shredded particulate, and provide you with a certificate of disposal. FRCs can also degauss and crush computer hard drives. These processes ensure that that the records are completely destroyed and that no information on the media is left accessible for unauthorized use.

The links below provide you with an overview of the kinds and levels of services the FRCs offer for electronic media, followed by FAQs on procedures, regulations, and other information. This information is also available as a PDF booklet.

Electronic media destruction is part of the comprehensive suite of e-records services that the FRCs offer, including electronic media storage and digital imaging services.

1. Overview of FRC Electronic Media Destruction Services

2. Frequently Asked Questions about FRC Electronic Media Destruction Services

Overview of FRC Electronic Media Destruction Services

Overview of FRC Electronic Media Destruction Services
Many Federal electronic records contain sensitive information. When these records reach the end of their lifecycle, it is crucial for agencies to ensure that the information contained in these records does not get into the wrong hands. Following the recommendations of NIST Special Publication 800-88, the FRCs can help you mitigate the risk of unauthorized use of this information by completely erasing and securely destroying both the information and the media on which the information is stored. The FRCs offer three electronic media destruction services: shredding, degaussing, and hard drive destruction (punching/crushing).

Removable Electronic Media Destruction (Shredding)

FRC industrial disintegrators can thoroughly destroy a wide range of removable electronic media, including CDs, DVDs, diskettes, magnetic tapes, and cartridges. Media can be shredded to particles no more than 3/32'' in size. FRC disintegrators meet National Security Agency standards for destruction of classified optical media (CDs or DVDs) up to the Top Secret Level.

Degaussing

The FRC degaussing process renders data stored on magnetic media unreadable by changing the magnetic properties of the media surface. When a stronger alternating field is applied, magnetic flux is reduced to virtually zero, and exposed data are lost, leaving
the magnetic media in a magnetically neutral state. Degaussing is available for hard drives and certain types of removable electronic media, such as backup tapes and digital tapes.

Hard Drive Destruction (Punching/Crushing)

The FRCs can completely physically destroy your agency’s hard drives. Hydraulically-loaded crushing machines can destroy standard computer hard drives including laptop drives. The crusher uses 12,000 pounds of force to produce a conical punch that causes catastrophic trauma to the hard drive chassis while also destroying the internal platter. This force is sufficient to mutilate the drive so that it cannot be reconnected or reinserted into a functioning computer. The FRC crusher can destroy 3.5'', 2.5'' and 1'' hard disk drives (maximum dimensions: 1'' h x 4'' w x 5.8'' d). The drive types include SATA, PATA, SCSI, Notebook/Laptop.

Frequently Asked Questions about FRC Electronic Media Destruction Services

1. Which FRCs currently offer electronic media destruction services?
The Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suitland, MD; the Fort Worth Federal Records Center in Fort Worth, TX; and the Philadelphia Federal Records Center in Philadelphia, PA, offer electronic media destruction services.

  • The WNRC offers destruction services for classified optical media other than hard drives (up to Top Secret) and unclassified media.
  • The Fort Worth FRC offers degaussing, crushing, and shredding services for unclassified media. *
  • The Philadelphia FRC offers degaussing and hard drive destruction services for unclassified media. *

* Please note that the Fort Worth and Philadelphia FRCs can offer destruction services for classified media (including hard drives) only if the media is accompanied by an agency representative with the appropriate security clearance and if the destruction of the records is witnessed by this representative. These FRCs cannot store classified records.

Please see Figure 1 for further details on these services.

All Federal agencies, regardless of their geographical location, may send electronic media to any of these locations for destruction.

Figure 1: Services and Locations for Electronic Media Destruction
Media Type

Services by Location

Shred Degauss Punch/Crush
Hard drives with classified information Service is not applicable to this media type Ft. Worth* or Philadelphia* Ft. Worth* or Philadelphia*
Hard drives without classified information+ Service is not applicable to this media type Ft. Worth or Philadelphia Ft. Worth or Philadelphia
Magnetic, video, or audio tapes with classified information Ft. Worth* Ft. Worth* or Philadelphia* Service is not applicable to this media type
Magnetic, video, or audio tapes without classified information+ WNRC or Ft. Worth Ft. Worth or Philadelphia Service is not applicable to this media type
Opticalmedia (CDs, DVDs, etc.) with classified information# WNRC or Ft. Worth* Service is not applicable to this media type Service is not applicable to this media type
Opticalmedia (CDs, DVDs, etc.) without classified information WNRC or Ft. Worth Service is not applicable to this media type Service is not applicable to this media type

*Service is available at this location, but must be witnessed by agency representative with the appropriate security clearance. This location cannot accept unaccompanied classified media and cannot store classified records.
+ Agencies with media that is not classified but that contains sensitive information (such as medical records, Privacy Act records, tax records, etc.) may wish to consider a two step process for the destruction of this media, e.g., degauss and then shred or punch).
# Optical media containing classified records may be destroyed by a one step process (shredding only) as our process meets the NSA destruction requirements for shred size 3/32'' or less.



2. I have electronic media that I would like to have erased and/or destroyed by the FRC. Where do I start?
If your electronic media is currently stored somewhere other than in a NARA Federal Records Center, please contact the FRC before shipping your media to the FRC for destruction. Please note that FRCs can pick up electronic media from agencies in the metropolitan Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, areas. FRCs may also be able to provide courier services outside of these areas. Contact your local FRC for details and shipping rates. Please note that the Fort Worth and Philadelphia FRCs cannot pick up or store classified media.

If your electronic media is currently stored at an FRC, when the disposition date of these records is approaching, the FRC will send you a Notice of Eligibility for Disposal(NA Form 13001) or will notify you through the Archives and Records Centers Information System (ARCIS). When you return the signed disposal notice (or when you sign off on the disposal through ARCIS), the FRC will destroy (degauss and/or shred) the records per your instructions and will provide you with a certificate of destruction upon completion. Contact your local FRC for rates to ship your records to an FRC that can process destruction.

For more information on storing your agency’s electronic media in a Federal Records Center, please see www.archives.gov/frc/emedia-storage.html.

3. What types of magnetic tapes can be degaussed?
In addition to hard drives (both LMR and PMR types) up to 6,000 Oe, a variety of magnetic tapes up to 2,800 Oe can be degaussed. These types of media include: 3480/3490/3490e, 3590, 9840, and T9940 tapes; all DLT and SDLT tape cartridges; LTO-1, 2, 3, and 4; Ultrium and Redwood SD-3 cartridges; Mammoth 1 and 2; 8mm; AIT 1 and 2; M2 tapes; Travan TR 3, 4, and 5; SLR 40, 50, 60, and 100; DDS 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; DD-2; and DTF-1 and 2. If you have another type of media, please check with your local FRC to see if it can be degaussed with our equipment.

4. What destruction services do FRCs offer for different media types?
The NSA/CSS Storage Device Declassification Manual details the following standards for electronic media destruction:

  • classified optical media may be destroyed by shredding alone if the shred size does not exceed 3/32''.
  • Classified hard drives may be destroyed by degaussing.
  • Classified tapes may be destroyed by degaussing.
  • Nonclassified optical media may be destroyed by shredding.
  • Nonclassified tapes may be destroyed by degaussing or shredding.
  • Nonclassified hard drives may be destroyed by degaussing and/or punching/crushing.

The FRCs' destruction services ensure complete destruction of your media. Our standard services include the following processes for these media types:

  • Classified optical media: shredding (with a shred size no larger than 3/32'')
  • Classified tapes: degaussing plus shredding
  • Classified hard drives: degaussing plus punching/crushing
  • Nonclassified optical media: shredding
  • Nonclassified tapes: shredding
  • Nonclassified hard drives: degaussing plus punching/crushing

5. How long does it take to degauss and crush a hard drive?
It takes only about 15 seconds to degauss each hard drive and an additional 15 seconds to crush it.

6. Can the FRCs destroy media that contain nonrecord material?
Yes. FRCs are authorized to destroy all kinds of data stored on electronic media, including non-record material.

7. How do the FRCs ensure security?
As a Federal agency, NARA knows how important it is to keep your agency’s records securely in Federal custody throughout their life cycle. All electronic media destruction services are conducted or witnessed at an FRC by Federal employees who hold the appropriate security clearances for the media being processed, so you can rest assured that your information is safe from unauthorized disclosure throughout the disposal process.

The FRCs can accommodate disposal of electronic media witnessed by your agency representatives. Please note that witnessed destruction by an agency representative with the appropriate security clearance is required for destruction of any classified media at the Fort Worth or Philadelphia FRCs, since these facilities cannot store classified media.

8. Can the FRCs destroy media containing classified records?
Destruction services provided by the FRCs meet National Security Agency (NSA) standards for the destruction of classified media and comply with the Committee on National Security Systems Instruction (CNSSI) No. 4004 Destruction and Emergency Protection Procedures for COMSEC and Classified Material. See Figure 1 for more information on which FRCs offer destruction services for classified media. Contact the FRC (see contact information, back cover) to make special arrangements to transport your classified records for destruction and for classified destruction fees.

The Fort Worth and Philadelphia FRCs cannot store classified records. However, these FRCs can process destruction of classified media if an authorized agency employee (with appropriate clearance) witnesses the same-day disposal.

9. Does the FRC media destruction equipment meet National Security Agency (NSA) standards?
FRC industrial removable electronic media shredders fully meet National Security Agency (NSA) standards for High Security Disentegrators (NSA/CSS 0202) and Optical Media Destruction Devices (NSA/CSS 0402). Media can be shredded to particles no more than 3/32'' in size. The disentegrators shred to a confetti-like particulate that cannot be reconstructed.

The degausser meets NSA standards (NSA/CSS EPLDegausser, 30 Mar 2009) for degaussing of hard drives (LMR and PMR) and magnetic tape media.

10. How much do FRC electronic media destruction services cost?
FRCs offer competitive rates for electronic media destruction services. For more information on rates, please contact the FRC.

11. What kind of documentation is provided to agencies by the FRC on completion of destruction?
FRCs provide a Destruction Certificate specifying that media and/or hard drives were eligible for destruction pursuant to Federal guidelines (attested to by the owner agency) and signed by the FRC employee effecting the disposal and providing a date of disposal. The media are listed on the Destruction Certificate. The serial numbers of the hard drives are also listed.

12. What regulations govern the destruction of electronic records?
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 36 CFR Chapter XII Subchapter B - Records Management, outlines agency responsibilities for the retention and disposition of records and includes a section on electronic records management. These regulations can be accessed through the National Archives' web site .

Other Federal standards referenced in this booklet include the NSA standards for High Security Disintegrators (NSA/CSS 0202), Optical Media Destruction Devices (NSA/CSS 0402), and Degaussers (NSA/CSS EPLDegausser, 30 Mar 2009; the NSA/CSS Storage Device Declassification Manual; NIST SP 80088, Guidelines for Media Sanitization; and the Committee on National Security Systems Instruction (CNSSI) No. 4004 Destruction and Emergency Protection Procedures for COMSEC and Classified Material.

13. What is the contact information for the FRCs that offer electronic media destruction services?
The NARA Southwest Region Federal Records Center
1400 John Burgess Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76140
Tel:817 551-2055
E mail: ftworth.eservices@nara.gov
Web: www.archives.gov/frc/fort-worth/

The Washington National Records Center
4205 Suitland Road
Suitland, MD 20746 8001
Tel: 301 778 1600
Web: www.archives.gov/dc-metro/suitland/agencies/

The Philadelphia Federal Records Center
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154 1025
Tel: 215 305 2000
Web: www.archives.gov/frc/philadelphia/


* Please note that the Fort Worth and Philadelphia FRCs can offer destruction services for classified media (including hard drives) only if the media is accompanied by an agency representative with the appropriate security clearance and if the destruction of the records is witnessed by this representative. These FRCs cannot store classified records.