Comparing Hard Drive Shredding Services

6 Things to Consider When Comparing Hard Drive Shredding Services: A Paper Shredder Versus Back Thru The Future

Hard drive shredding is more than just an internal data security procedure. It is a federal, state and industry required data privacy protection procedure that is heavily regulated. The proper environmental disposal of the shredded material is also a regulated activity in many states. Failure to follow the proscribed procedures and maintain proper documentation puts your organization at regulatory non-compliance risk.

Vendor due diligence is a required step for regulatory compliance. As an example, in a risk guidance letter made to all community banks dealing with vendor risk assessment, The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency states ‘simply selecting a vendor solely based upon prior experience is not an acceptable vendor due diligence criteria by itself.’ This means, if you presently use a paper shredding vendor, that is not an acceptable justification to use their hard drive shredding service. You need to consider the following:

Specific Business Experience

Paper shredding company’s business model is focused on the shredding of paper. This means that hard drive shredding is a value-added service that is used to increase customer retention by making the paper shredded seem more relevant to the customer. It is not a primary business focus and generally represents a very small fraction of their business activity.

The Back Thru The Future (BTTF) business model is centered around the secure destruction of electronic media and electronic recycling. That’s all we do. We do not shred paper. We only provide services that are primary business capabilities. We bring a specialized expertise and experience to our onsite hard drive shredding services.

When comparing hard drive shredding services, the handling and disposal processes for paper are very different from that of hard drives and other electronics media.


Vehicles used by paper shredders are specifically designed to shred large volumes of paper.

Paper is dumped from outside of the truck, into a hopper that feeds a shredding machine inside the box body. Documentation is created automatically, tracking only the date and time of the shred, the container used, and total weight of the paper. Paper shredders and their processes were not created with shredding electronic media in mind, which can seriously compromise any attempts at maintaining security. We have on several occasions witnessed paper shred truck drivers on their hands and knees recovering dropped hard drives under their trucks.

BTTF vehicles were designed specifically to shred only hard drives and other electronic media. Our shredding process occurs fully inside the vehicle and media is loaded individually to be shred. This discrete and controlled handling process allows for meaningful individual device chain of possession documentation.

Handling and Process

There has never been a requirement for paper shredders to handle and track individual serial numbered items, that process is an outlier to their normal business practices. Paper is shred by bulk weight then sent to a standard paper recycling facility.

Unlike paper, each hard drive has a unique serial number identification. A regulatory required chain of possession dictates that individual serial numbered data storage devices be tracked through the entirety of the disposal process. Evidence of every link in the chain of possession is mandatory to maintain compliance. The owner of the media is then responsible for maintaining records of the media destruction process.

BTTF has been in the business of tracking serial number devices for over 25 years. We audit and track every serial numbered device that comes into our possession. Years of planning and development have gone into perfecting our media destruction system into what it is now; a secure, 100% auditable, process that documents every link in the chain of possession as required by regulations. This process is integral to our business, it’s part of our DNA.

Employee Training and Experience

Paper shredding facilities are designed to shred and store paper. They have no access to or experience in the proper handling of electronics. They do not have the physical resources necessary to train their employees at their facility. This results in employees that have no hands-on experience in the required procedures for the handling and documenting of computer equipment or electronic media. Any given project that requires a paper shredder to destroy hard drives could very well be the first time the driver has ever handled a hard drive.

All new BTTF employees spend the first three months of their employ working in our incoming computer equipment inventory audit and de-manufacturing area. They become familiar with our audit procedures and automated inventory control system, at the same time they de-manufacture just about everything they might run into onsite. The next three months they are paired with an experienced onsite technician and must pass a set of rigorous proficiency tests before they are cleared to go on-site to a customer’s location alone.

A paper shredder’s employee experience is 80-90% handling paper and their paper collection containers. By contrast, 100% of a BTTF technician’s experience is handling computers, electronic equipment and electronic storage media. As has been proven time and time again: the more you practice something the better you become.

Shredded Material Containment and Transport

This is another area of vast differentiation. Paper shredders will use paper ‘dump’ containers to transport the hard drives from inside your building to their truck for shredding. Once the hard drives are shred, the shreds are typically left on the floor of the shred truck vehicle, To be collected in a bulk container and disposed of in any way they see fit.

BTTF uses secure, locking, and tamper evident, collection containers for the secure and auditable transport of the inventoried hard drives from inside your facility to our shred vehicle. We require that at least one of your employees witnesses and confirm the inventory inside your facility and the securing of the hard drives within the container. The witness then accompanies our technician as the secure containers are transported from inside your facility to the inside of our shred vehicle and subsequently shred. The shredded material is deposited from the shredder directly into a custom designed container. These sturdy, wheeled, containers provide security and control of up to 400 shredded hard drives. When a containers are filled, their top is closed, locked and sealed. This type of container was an original requirement of the NJ DEP to properly contain and transport shredded electronics so as to prevent spillage in the event of a truck accident.

The Scrapasaurous is then received at our NJ DEP licensed and NAID AAA security certified facility where the containers are tipped into hoppers that control the flow of shreds into our custom material sorting system.


Paper shredders provide certificates of destruction. In many cases, this consists of a receipt tape from a handheld printer that is generated at the time of shredding. They have no legal ability to provide an environmental compliance document for the required proper disposal and recycling of the shredded hard drive material.

BTTF technicians create most of the documentation, such as our transfer of materials, and an inventory of your equipment, on a tablet computer that also captures your signature for approval. The technician created documents as well as the required secure destruction and environmental compliance documents and all chain of possession documentation, are stored in digital form in our Compliance Library™ . The Compliance Library™ is our secure, access-restricted, cloud-based document archive that is available to you 24/7/365.

Disposal and Recycling Process

This is the defining difference between a paper shredders onsite shredding service and BTTF. Paper shredders have no legal ability to recycle or dispose of electronic material. They must deliver the material to an authorized recycling/disposal facility. In many cases, shredded material be will sold to a local scrap metal dealer who accepts the shredded material as a low grade aluminum scrap.

BTTF has been in the electronic recycling business for over 30 years. We have developed, what we believe to be, the most efficient materials sorting system for shredded hard drive material in the US. We recapture the electronic circuit boards, ferrous metal, stainless steel, and aluminum in 90% pure form. This transforms the shredded hard drives into valuable recycling materials. We come as close to making a hard drive an environmentally sustainable product as anyone in the country and with every year our efficiency continues to improve.

Considering the obvious differences and shortcomings of using a paper shredder for electronic media destruction, the question you should ask yourself is:
“If during an audit, I were asked to defend my vendor choice, who would I be most comfortable with?”

100% of our client quality control surveys rate both our pre-project and
post-project communications as “Excellent”

92% of our new client quality control surveys have been returned marked “exceeded expectations”.

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