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Enter: The Dragons

Electronic media destruction has been readily available for some time for everything up to hard drives—CDs, videos, audiotape, microfiche, floppy disks, and the like. Many cities have businesses such as St. Louis, Missouri's St. Louis Data Destruction that pick up micromedia as well as paper, transporting and disposing of it securely, and offering certification of its destruction. St. Louis Data Destruction also accepts drop-offs and shipments. But the monster news is the hard drive–destroying beasts that are rearing their heads in the new shredding ecology. St. Louis Data Destruction has ordered a machine from Vecoplan that munches hard drives into half-inch bites; they expect to charge in the neighborhood of $.35 per pound to make the monster chew up the past for conscientious enterprises.

Tri-R Shredding of Denver, CO has a less dramatic method of destroying hard drives that would soothe many a fearful administrative heart. Tri-R quarters hard drives by placing them on a shear and cutting them in half once the long way and once the short way. The tracks inside the drive are completely severed. The cost for certified shredding for a hard drive already removed from the machine is $4; $6 if recording by serial numbers; $10 if not removed from the machine when they come in. Tri-R even has a joint service with FedEx called Ship and Shred, which allows you to go online and choose your location, type of media, and quantity; get a quote, print a label, and schedule a FedEx pickup. The price includes shipping, shredding, and an emailed certificate of destruction.

The most theatrical and yet least expensive option is the multistory, multimillion-dollar, custom-engineered behemoth at Gold Circuit, Inc. of Chandler, Arizona. After seeing the online movie, we put it on our vacation wish list—but, then, we're geeks. This monster gargles 800 computer monitors (26,000 pounds) per hour in its giant throat, from whole (minus cord) to particles. Not just a mess of particles—particles sorted by material into bins, with lead and other dangerous inhalants sucked out of the air, which is said to be cleaner than the normal air that we breathe, and dirty glass ready to ship to another plant for lead removal. And oh, yes—of course—they do hard drives.

How much for that city-crushing, drive-kill-o-saurus in the multistory building? Twelve cents a pound. Ship one hard drive or many, or arrange for secure pickup on the East Coast. One customer ships by UPS in a box with locks on it, according to Gold Circuit President James Greenberg. "We're also shredding electronics out of airplanes, because they don't want them to end up on new planes," says Greenberg. "Parts actually come to us in locked barrels, and they unlock them and we shred everything that's in them."

Greenberg has noticed a big difference in the hard drive shredding business since the beginning of 2004. "As the laws get a little bit stronger and more people get in trouble, everybody will adhere to it, but they're slow in enacting the laws needed," he says. "Major companies are looking at it the hardest because they have the most to lose, but they have the deeper pockets, so they can afford [compliance]."

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