Remarketing, the reselling of end-of-life or retired IT assets like hard drives, is an extremely competitive and cost-sensitive industry. Thousands of companies all over the world buy and sell hard drives, including brokers that simply act as a middleman connecting buyers and sellers. Oftentimes these drives have not had the data wiped off them, have large amounts of bad sectors, or do not work at all. This is an industry defined by the term “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware), and it requires the use of payment methods that can be refunded in case the product that received is not what was advertised.

For example, we recently got a large shipment of hard drives that were supposed to be “tested, working.” But it turns out that our equipment couldn’t even recognize the hard drives because they had been degaussed and were essentially paperweights.

Most remarketers are simply that: they don’t recycle, and some don’t even have any data security or data destruction capability, they just buy and sell drives. And in order to stay profitable in an industry with constantly changing drive values and tight profit margins, they don’t invest a penny more than they have to in hardware and software.

Among companies that do offer “data destruction” services, most do so without any certification, training, oversight, or qualifications of any sort. Many simply drop the data-bearing drives into a shredder and physically destroy them, which unnecessarily burdens a broken and overloaded global recycling system. Although some vendors claim to “wipe,” “sanitize,” or “destroy” data, there is evidence that it isn’t done consistently across the industry:

  • In a Q3 2019 study, Blancco purchased 159 drives from professional sellers using eBay in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Finland. All of the drives were “guaranteed” by the sellers to be cleaned of all data. That wasn’t the case however: Almost half (42%) still contained data, with 15% of the information being personally identifying information (PII) and/or corporate data.
  • A Q1 2017 NAID study found PII, including credit card data and tax records, on over 44% of 250 hard drives purchased in the secondary market.

This gauntlet of shady, dishonest dealers pushing unpredictable and often unreliable product is what companies face when shopping for working, clean drives. If you are considering the purchase of remarketed drives (or selling your used SATA or SAS drives), make sure you work with a trusted vendor who has the necessary credentials and a solid reputation to avoid disappointment.

In part two of this series, we discuss where there is hope for organizations that need hard drive vendors that are both ethical and competent.  If you can’t wait and want that insight immediately, contact me at 603-834-9441.