FAQs on Sanitization of Digital Storage Media

What tools or techniques should be used to sanitize which types of devices?

Please refer to Data Security – Electronic Media Sanitization in the IT Services Documentation website for up-to-date information on how to sanitize various types of devices.

Two things you should know: ordinary file deletion native to most operating systems does not sanitize; methods commonly used to sanitize magnetic storage devices do not work on Solid State Drives and some other types of media.

Should I sanitize just those files containing confidential information?

This approach may overlook temporary copies and special locations in which the device may have kept the files or portions of the files. It is safer and simpler to sanitize the entire device to ensure nothing was overlooked.

When transferring your device to another person, it is a best practice to sanitize the entire device to ensure that new software is installed cleanly and licensed software terms remain in place. When permanently disposing of a device, deleting its digital storage media is also a good practice.

Is there a service I can use to sanitize properly?

IT Services provides a device recycling service that properly sanitizes devices before they are recycled. Contact computerrecyling@uchicago.edu for information and to make arrangements.


If my device is encrypted, do I need to sanitize it?

Device encryption is a good way to protect against unauthorized access of confidential information when the device is lost or stolen. To sanitize, all that is needed is to delete or change the encryption key. See Data Security – Electronic Media Sanitization for details.

Who is responsible for sanitizing a digital storage device?

The University’s Human Resources policy Treatment of Confidential Information establishes guidelines for the use of confidential information by employees. This policy helps employees understand how to meet some of those obligations.

Category: Security