Methods of File Destruction continued

Paper Files

The predominant destruction method is paper shredding. You may decide to purchase or lease a paper shredder. Cross-cut shredders are the preferred type. Alternatively, you may hire a paper shredding company, but if you do so, someone in the firm should monitor the work and ensure the documents are in fact destroyed. (Many companies provide certificates of destruction.) The provincial government offers a low cost shredding service which you may qualify for. In some rural areas, burning may be an option. It is clearly never acceptable for you or your staff to throw file documents into the trash, a dumpster, a recycling bin, or a public landfill.

Electronic Files

You also need to think about the methods of deleting and destroying computer files and computer hard drives. Some highly sensitive information should not be put into a computer unless there is an encryption protection for the information. In any event, computer hard drives should not simply be dumped into public trash receptacles, donated, or sold. Remember also information stored on USB drives, which are commonly used and easily misplaced. Be sure to erase documents stored on USB drives.

Even if documents appear to be deleted on a hard drive, skilled individuals may be able to reconstruct the information that resides on it. There are programs available for reformatting hard drives, but you need to take care that the job has been done successfully.

Again, the provincial government does offer multi-media shredding which you may be able to access. Smashing the platters in the hard drives with a hammer may not ultimately destroy the data, but it may destroy your entire computer if not done properly. Contact the practice advisors at the Law Society for information on products that are available for destroying hard drives, or refer to the Additional Resources section for articles on the LSBC website that address these issues.