Businesses are performing data center decommissioning projects more frequently than ever in today’s evolving digital landscape. Computer systems, mainframes, tablets and laptops are practically obsolete within a year or two of purchasing them. However, data center decommissioning is essential to a company’s viability when systems are no longer cost-effective.

The focus of a successful data center decommissioning project is the systematically linear decommissioning of all technological assets. IT asset managers should begin developing a decommission plan well before executing the actual decommission. The plan should address all aspects of transferring (migrating) data to new systems, archiving data and properly disposing of assets. One way managers do this is by creating a data center decommissioning checklist several months before the actual decommission date.

Primary Checklist Points


Complete an inventory of all devices and data specifics contained on the device intended for decommissioning. Detailed information regarding the item’s final destination and method of destruction should also be found on inventory documents.

Preparation Questions

  • How long (estimated) will the decommissioning will take? Days, weeks, months? Are certain tasks expected to be completed within designated time frames?
  • Will decommissioning coincide with high-usage hours? If so, how will workflow interruptions be addressed? (Consider possible loss of data access, power, etc)
  • Have vendors been contacted in case they are needed at any point during the decommissioning?
  • Have IT managers canceled all outsourced maintenance contracts relating to decommissioned IT assets?
  • Has a migration plan been developed and evaluated?
  • What kind of equipment will be needed to remove digital assets? Are enough forklifts, pallets, boxes and other items available to streamline completion of the project?
  • Will the project require hiring temporary help? If so, will background checks be performed on temporary employees assisting in the decommissioning?

Asset Disposition

The final element of a data center decommissioning checklist should concern the logistics of transporting IT assets to a facility for data destruction purposes.

Asset disposition primarily concerns the where and how of data destruction. The best way to guarantee hard drives and other devices containing sensitive data are completely destroyed is by contacting Potomac eCycle. In addition to ensuring decommissioned data center equipment is permanently inaccessible, we will recycle parts for their precious metals. Relying on an ecycling business like Potomac eCycle means businesses can actively reduce their carbon footprint and prevent toxic chemicals from polluting the soil, water and atmosphere.

Methods of purging or sanitizing media are best determined by IT security specialists who can expertly evaluate the level of data sensitivity. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, sanitization methods for cleaning data storage devices include:

Overwriting: by writing new data over old data using binary code (0s and 1s), it is possible to delete data and make it harder–but not impossible–for hackers to access the old data. Overwriting should encompass the entire hard drive and include at least three layers of binary code.

Degaussing: a degaussing machine targets hard drives with a magnetic field that rearranges particle polarity to remove data. Although degaussing sounds relatively simple, the wide array of media formats requiring various magnetic densities means achieving an optimal degaussing process can be difficult. Data and other media with high security classifications require degaussing machines that provide powerful energy ratings.

Destruction/shredding: considered the most reliable technique for guaranteeing total eradication of data, shredding is the best asset disposition method and widely used by big organizations. Shredding machines grind and pulverize hard drives until nothing remains but miniscule particles. Depending on the shredder, hard drives and other data-containing items can be pulverized into pieces as small as 10mm.

Potomac eCycle understands how complicated a data center decommissioning project can be. That’s why we offer pick up services and certificates of destruction to give you peace of mind once we have destroyed your IT assets.

Call today for more information about our data destruction services.

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