It’s relatively easy to erase the contents of a drive on a Mac. But what if you’re asked to prove you did so? Some companies, government agencies, and other organizations have an internal or legal requirement to erase drives securely. While the IT department may handle this at large organizations, you might be asked (as one reader was) to provide documentation before disposing of a company computer.
Fortunately, this isn’t an odd request. And it’s not terribly expensive even for an individual to conform to. There’s a category of software that’s available across many different platforms from many firms that is designed to not just perform erasure meeting a variety of industry or military standards, but can also produce a certification report at the end.
This certificate is backed by the company having run though its own set of certifications with industry groups and labs that test the software to make sure it meets the erasure specifications promised. Stellar’s Bitraser File Eraser, for example, notes that “This certificate helps you meet compliance with data protection regulations such as SOX, GLB, HIPAA, ISO27001, EU-GDPR, PCI-DSS, audits, and international guidelines, including ISO 27001.”
If any of those letters and numbers are important for your group, Bitraser File Eraser is $40 a year for a single-user license, and it’s up to date for macOS 10.15 Catalina.
iShredder from ProtectStar also meets the bill for macOS through Catalina with “deletion algorithms like DoD 5220.22-M ECE, Peter Gutmann, DoD 5220.22-M, HMG Infosec No.5, German BSI-2011-VS, US Army AR380-19 and more.” It’s $19.90 for an individual license for its professional version, which includes one year of updates and support. It has a “military edition” that adds more military standards for erasure and a more comprehensive report.
Instead of purchasing software, you may also be able to find a local electronics recycler— like the non-profit InterConnection in my town of Seattle—or data-security firm that offers a one-off price for erasing a computer’s internal drive with the necessary certification report or extracting and destroying a drive with a paper trail for your needs.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Craig.
Ask Mac 911
We’ve compiled a list of the questions we get asked most frequently along with answers and links to columns: read our super FAQ to see if your question is covered. If not, we’re always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to email@example.com including screen captures as appropriate, and whether you want your full name used. Not every question will be answered, we don’t reply to email, and we cannot provide direct troubleshooting advice.