Data security specialist Blancco has claimed an unofficial world record for the speed at which its Pro 4.7 software can securely overwrite large amounts of hard drive data.

An unnamed datacentre customer in Germany recently used the product on its fibre channel SAN to destroy 210TB of data held on a large number of hard disks in only 19 hours. This was equivalent to wiping 184GB every minute, or 3.06GB every second, the company said.

Each hard disk was overwritten seven times using a proprietary data destruction algorithm to meet the highest security standards possible, as part of an end-of-life cycle for the hardware. According to Blancco, the feat was accomplished thanks to the product’s ability to send wipe commands to a large number of drives at one time, making the whole process parallel. Desktop PC drive overwriting assumes serial addressing, and is therefore much slower.

Drives are normally de-commissioned on a set timescale, with wiping carried out by the equipment supplier. However, this could not guarantee full security as the datacentres – and their customers - had no guarantees about the wiping technology being used.

“Obviously speed is an issue,” commented Blancco product manager, Mikko Koponen. “If you are erasing at normal speeds, the erasure would take days or even weeks.”

“Customers are not aware that when datacentres get rid of data there is not provision for data wiping,” he said. “The datacentre doesn’t want to pay for the erasure because it [data] belongs to the customer.”

Blancco can’t claim the wiping performance as a world record, because figures on this type of data destruction are rarely discussed. However, there is no doubt that it is still an impressive data destruction rate, and an open challenge to a market where off-the-shelf software tools are thin on the ground.

Techworld reviewed the company’s desktop secure erasure software last year.