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Do Printers and Copiers Have Hard Drives? Skip to main content

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Do Printers and Copiers Have Hard Drives?

Fri Sep 16, 2016 | Lasers Resource


Do printers have hard drives? Yes (mostly).

We could end this post there, but a little more explanation is in order.

It depends on what you mean by "printer". If you're thinking of business-class laser printers, there's probably a hard drive. If you're thinking about your multifunction printer (MFP, generally called the copier), yes, there's a hard drive. Older devices, MFPs intended for personal use, and many inkjet printers, will have printer memory (to buffer print jobs), but no hard drive (though you should double-check your model's specs to make sure).

That said, if you're thinking of your multifunction printer/copier and it's 15 years old or newer (and if you're using a 15-year-old copier, please call us or someone else), it's almost certain that your “printer” has a hard drive.

Why the Hard Drive Matters – Document Security

Every time your copier sends a fax, scans a document, prints a job, or even makes a copy; a copy of that document is stored on the device's hard drive. That includes invoices and checks, HR documents, personal information of customers, etc. If you're in a regulated industry, healthcare or financial services for example, then you need to comply with HIPAA and FINRA rules.

Regardless of industry, you are responsible for keeping personally identifiable information (PII) about your customers secure and away from hackers. To that end, you need to include any networked printer, copier, or scanner in your overall IT security plan (this is a blog topic for another day).

You also need to be sure the data on the printer's hard drive never leaves your building.

Securing Your Documents and Deleting the Hard Drive

Fortunately, once you know that your copier or print has a hard drive, you'll know that you need to take steps to ensure no one else sees the data. Because copiers and printers are often refurbished and sold or leased again, it's important that your data not leave the building.

If you own your equipment, you can do a wipe of your hard drive's memory any way you like. Many copiers today will have instructions in their manual for how to clear today, so start there. If you're leasing or have a managed print services contract, check with your service partner before you do anything.

1. Remove the hard drive and either digitally rewrite or overwrite the data or physically destroy it (sanding, shredding, melting, incineration, pulverization, or chemical treatment). Note: the baseball bat approach a la the movie Office Space doesn't guarantee destruction of your hard drive. Have professionals do that.

2. Many copiers today have a hard drive overwrite or wipe function. That's a good option to use to keep your hard drive clear of sensitive data while you're actively using it as well as a way to destroy your data and wipe the drive once you're ready to get rid of the device.

3. Reformat the drives.

4. Don't forget to clear any cached data, such as emails and any workflows you've set up on the copier interface.

And, for your next service contract, don't forget to include details on how you and your service provider will handle the hard drives. That will eliminate any last-minute scrambling and ensure that your data remains safe and secure.

Fortunately, once you know about this potential security issue; it's a relatively simple process to ensure that it never becomes a problem for your business.

Want to know if your printer or copier has a hard drive? Contact us now.

 

 


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