How to wipe and recycle a USB stick

USB sticks might only cost a few pounds when you pick them up from a computer shop, but if you’ve got data on them then the value can actually be much higher.

As a responsible data handler, it’s important to keep your sensitive information protected and to fully wipe it when it is no longer needed.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can effectively carry out a data wipe on USB memory sticks in order to prevent future data losses or problems.

Formatting

It’s a common misconception that one of the simplest ways to clear data off a USB stick is to format it.

But although files disappear from view when a USB stick is formatted, the data in question is not actually removed forever and your files are still retained in the recesses of the drive. For that reason, it’s wise to look into another option to clear the drive, like software or destruction.

Software

Several USB stick clearing software packages are available for download online. These offer a relatively quick way to wipe data so that you can reuse your device, and they avoid the possibility that you will press the wrong button or option – a risk that comes with manual formatting.

Be sure to have strong anti-virus software in operation before downloading unknown material from the Internet.

Destruction

Simply erasing the files on your USB doesn’t mean they’re gone forever; in fact, IT experts and even some free-to-download software can mean it’s possible to restore your files. To stop your data ending up in the wrong hands, you’ll want to look into a data destruction solution which offers you 100% certainty and physical proof that the data is gone. In this instance, you should physically destroy the USB stick in question.

To begin, take the case off the USB stick and remove all parts except the circuit board and the controller chips. Next, use a drill and appropriate safety equipment to turn these central parts into a fine powder.

Recycling

USB sticks are made up of a lot of recyclable materials, such as the plastic casing. Don’t forget to recycle these parts safely and appropriately, or if that seems too complicated, then consider using an affordable IT recycling service instead.

We at AssetCare specialise in data destruction, IT recycling and getting rid of waste electrical and electronic equipment. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.