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"Smash Your Hard Drive" To Fight Identity Theft

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-can-get-behind-that dept.

Privacy 527

Will Do This For Free writes "BBC News has a story about the only fireproof way of safeguarding your personal information when dumping your old computer: 'It sounds extreme, but the only way to be 100% safe is to smash your hard drive into smithereens. [...] The more thoroughly the better.' This sounds like so much fun that I almost feel like doing it right now. Let me press Submit Story first."

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527 comments

"The only fireproof way of safeguarding your data" (5, Funny)

thetorpedodog (750359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370929)

So...I don't want my data to somehow magically be restored when I throw an old hard disk into a fire? Where can I read more about this amazing data-recovery technology?

Re:"The only fireproof way of safeguarding your da (5, Interesting)

kcelery (410487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371127)

Throwing into fire is not enough, the magnetic domain on the platter is still there for highly technical team to retrieve. You have to melt the hard disk into liquid and stir thoroughly.

Re:"The only fireproof way of safeguarding your da (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371289)

The platters don't have to be melted, they only need to be heated to the Curie point [wikipedia.org] to loose all their information. Of course, that would still take a pretty hot fire.

In other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370937)

In other news: sky still blue, water still wet, pope still catholic.

Re:In other news (4, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371469)

In other news: people still stupid. Has anyone here actually TRIED to get stuff back off a Guttmann wiped drive? Or even a DoD 7 wiped drive?

My class in computer security had some time to kill and someone brought that up so the teacher said "Well, we've got a bunch of PCs from last upgrade waiting to be re-imaged and given away to students...let me see what I can score us!". He ended up getting us a half a dozen PCs set up in the back of the class with 2 HDDs set up in each so we could run plenty of different tests. We did everything from MSFT format to one pass to three pass to DoD 7 to Guttman. We researched and then used every piece of freeware and trialware that we could get our little hands on. Here is our findings:

MSFT format is of course pointless, as everyone knows. 1 pass of zeroes we got around,sorry but it has been awhile, but we got around 80% IIRC. 3 pass was lower(0,1,random), somewhere in the 10-20% range, depending on the software used, but most of the "recovered" data was garbled beyond use, DoD-7 made it pretty much impossible, I think we got 2 .txt files and they were so garbled we couldn't decide if it had actually recovered ANYTHING, certainly nothing you could use, and finally Guttmann we got squat.

So if someone were to spend the $$$$ to have the drive taken apart in a clean room and analyzed and you only used one or two pass of predictable patterns then yeah, I might see wanting to destroy. But I haven't seen anyone bragging about beating D0D-7 with what the average hacker would have access to, much less Guttmann. So frankly unless someone here has a citation I have to call bullshit. Frankly it makes me wonder if this kind of stuff isn't cooked up by the HDD manufacturers. I can just imagine them spinning this- "Before giving away that machine destroy the hard drive first!(so they'll have to buy a new one from us! Yay!)"

saveguarding, eh? (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370939)

what about using acid?

Re:saveguarding, eh? (4, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371083)

what about using acid?

It would certainly make smashing a hard drive to smithereens more interesting.

I wouldn't recommend it though. The paranoia you'd need to decide smashing a hard drive was the best way of preserving your identity would likely make it a pretty harsh trip.

Try crystal meth instead. The aggression and hyperactivity'd make be damn sure that HDD was properly smashed.

Curiosity + something shiny = doh! (1)

MindKata (957167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371423)

"It would certainly make smashing a hard drive to smithereens more interesting." and "I wouldn't recommend it though."

I pulled an old dead hard drive apart about 15 years ago, giving me an interesting shiny metal disk and a motor to play with. I had another drive die about two years ago, so I did the same. Only this time, forcing out what i thought was a metal disk, did indeed give an surprise I wouldn't recommend ... this time, it was glass, which I only realized at the point it shattered and sprayed me with a shower of razor shape shards! Thankfully I still have my eyesight. Still, turning it into smithereens was indeed more interesting. :)

Curiosity (nearly) Killed the Cat. :)

Re:saveguarding, eh? (1)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371109)

what about using acid?

dude, that's like such an awesome idea... like I can see patterns on the disk man. Wow man, you have a wicked selection of porn

Re:saveguarding, eh? (2, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371323)

What about having it fully encripted at all times?

If your computer is stolen it's quite hard to convince the thief to store it in an acid bath till it stops bubbling.

I find a Magnet Works (3, Informative)

s31523 (926314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370945)

I have a heavy duty magnet that when placed on the top of the drive makes the drive completely useless.
I doubt anyone could recover data from it, as it is surely scrambled.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26370977)

I have one of those, too. I keep mine on the side of my computer case.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371131)

Really? ... I smell bullshit.
"A magnet strong enough to modify the bits of a hard drive would be strong enough to pull the iron out of your blood cells"

Laboratory grade degaussers are the only thing strong enough to modify data from a platter.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371269)

Wrong. There were several airlines that suffered complaints that laptops were failing on their planes. The table/trays were magnetic so they could be folded and stowed away. Turns out if you sit a laptop on top of a magnet, [elliott.org] the hard drive soon fails.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371351)

You do know that hard drives have extremely strong magnets sitting a couple of millimeters from the platters, right? You're not going to get a strong field than that out of anything outside the casing short of an MRI machine.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371493)

The voice coil magnet is closed so that the field is strongest between the gap where the voice coil moves. Otherwise the field stays within the magnet. Think about the classic horse shoe magnet. If you connect the ends with a bit of iron, the field is closed.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371513)

Did you even RFTA? Wait, this is /.
FTA:"Whatever is going on, I would think it is not very serious," says Wiseman. "Otherwise we would see a hell of a lot more cases of hard disk corruption."

I think it might just be the jolting around and bumping happening on the airplane not magnetism. After all this article is over 10 years old.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371203)

Yup, and every drive comes with two of them used for the voice coil actuator. Just be careful when handling them. I've had them both snap together and give me a blood blister.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371205)

NO! It does NOT make it completely useless. Someone with a scanning-tunneling microscope could still retrieve portions of your data! The thing that makes this article retarded isn't the difficulty of permanently destroying data, which is best done with intense heat (as in, burn the disk to the point it melts) but the fact that no one cares about your identity OR your porn collection. Just zero the disk once and odds are that will be more than good enough for any of your personal data, unless you are the fucking president or something. Zero the disk or if you must, run a secure formatter, and put it on freecycle if it's too old to sell.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371295)

I call BS, and if it were not BS most identity thieves do not have a scanning-tunneling microscope or the knowledge to use one.

I agree though, for most cases simply using some form of secure format tool will do the job and keep the "honest" people out.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (3, Funny)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371341)

Just zero the disk once and odds are that will be more than good enough for any of your personal data, unless you are the fucking president or something.

"Can you guys recover my data?"
"Yes we can!"

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371453)

TFA makes the point that for most of us, a wipe or a hammer job is adequate to deter the schmoogs. The web is full of various tests of redox reactions to destroy the platters, if your data is in a glowing puddle of molten aluminium, it's probably secure.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Informative)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371501)

If you work for a big company, chances are you are very interested in this article and it doesn't sound retarded at all. I was actually asked by one of my ex-employers for the best method to dispose of a hard-disk so that nobody could retrieve information from it, for good reasons.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371503)

Actually, I think that an unmodified hardware with a modified hardrive driver is able to retrieve data that was zeroed once with a good accuracy. The trick is to get the analogic value measured by the magnetic head instead of just 1 or 0. If you measure all zeroes as 0.001 and 0.100 values and ones as 0.9 and 0.999 values, it is not hard to guess what the previous value of each bit was.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371207)

Back in the 80's I knew a guy who worked for a government science agency. He visited a friend who worked at Aberdeen Proving Ground in MD. That day on the firing range were 10 working Silicon Graphics Onyx computers - the Army said they needed to be destroyed because they had sensitive data on the hard drives. So the science agency guy tried to tell them that all they needed to do was drive over the hard drives with a tank but the army folks didn't listen but he did persuade them to give him one Onyx computer minus the hard drive - and the rest were blown away on the range. Personally I use a sledge hammer and a wood splitting maul - great stress reliever.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371367)

I have a heavy duty magnet too. It sits right inside the harddrive next to the platters, just like in every other harddrive.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (2, Interesting)

AntEater (16627) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371419)

If you're really want to have fun, you should take the magnet out of the drive. Those things area amazing. I had a co-worker who pulled the magnets out a whole slew of retired 5" hard drives. You could hang incredible amounts of weight from those things. Very easy to smash your fingers between them too. Just don't do it on your employer's time.

oh yeah, you could use that magnet to wipe the platter while you've got the drive open.

Re:I find a Magnet Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371461)

Electric Drill + 1/4in bit + 5 holes = destroyed data

Or make it reusable... (5, Informative)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26370971)

and just use dBan, Derrick's Boot and Nuke. [dban.org]

Nothing beats an afternoon of watching dBan and a comfy chair. Beer or whisky optional.

Re:Or make it reusable... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371209)

Nothing beats an afternoon of watching dBan and a comfy chair. Beer or whisky optional.

dBan sounds cool. So I put it on a disk and ran it. It really doesn't look that special. My computer won't turn on now.

Re:Or make it reusable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371311)

dBan sounds cool. So I put it on a disk and ran it. It really doesn't look that special. My computer won't turn on now.

You probably knocked the power cord out.

Environmentally criminal! (3, Informative)

thegoldenear (323630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371009)

This recommendation from Which? magazine has incensed me today. They're reported as saying "It sounds extreme, but the only way to be 100% safe is to smash your hard drive into smithereens." [bbc.co.uk]. There's no need to do this if you use disk wiping software, which is probably even better than a hammer; as the BBC article points out. Darik's Boot And Nuke [dban.org] is perfect for this. It's environmentally criminal to be suggesting the best way to wipe a disk is to smash it.

Pete Boyd

Re:Environmentally criminal! (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371067)

Problem is that most people are way too stupid to understand how to use that, but they can understand smash.

The funny part, 90% of those people that understand smash, will not smash it enough. I have recovered data from laptop hard drives that looked pretty smashed, but 45 minutes in my improvised clean room moving the platters to a different drive and I was able to read the contents.

Re:Environmentally criminal! (1)

thegoldenear (323630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371141)

Nice. I've not come across anyone transferring platters before. Presumably you use an identical drive with the same controller board?

This is what I meant that disk wiping software will be more thorough than a hammer.

But yeah, people aren't able to download an ISO and burn it to disc, then set their BIOS to boot from CD.

Re:Environmentally criminal! (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371403)

It's really not that hard to transfer platters. and yes use an identical drive.

a makeshift clean room is easy. run the shower in the bathroom for 15 minutes on the hottest setting and then shut it off and let the room cool down completely. the mist in the air will remove all dust as it falls to the ground. use a tyvek suit and cover your hair, face, hands and you're good to go.

Re:Environmentally criminal! (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371145)

The funny part, 90% of those people that understand smash, will not smash it enough.

Another 5% will enjoy it so much that they will do the same thing to their new computer, the TV and the next door neighbours car.

Re:Environmentally criminal! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371179)

I think Darik's Boot And Nuke actually is better at preventing identity thief then smashing your drive. Ok less assume you are tossing an old drive say a 20GB You smash the drive into 100 pieces each piece has about 200mb on the average. Chances are if you really wanted that data you take the pieces and make a custom drive that can read the data off a fragment of disk. Yes it will be to much work for the casual id thief but it is still there. Fill with 1 then with 0 then randomly a few times any additional magnetic residue from your drive will so mixed up with other data that you cannot possible determine what bit use to be high and then low.
Remember we still live an an analog world digital data is still stored analog however when we read it and write it we give it values within a discrete range where it is safely 1 of safely 0 however if you just fill it with all 1 or 0 the chances are your old ones except for having 0.00001T of magnetic force they will have 0.00001001T of force, and if you have sensitive enough equitment you can find your origional data again.

RBFH (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371013)

We've been using an RBFH for years to destroy harddrives. Just make sure you have some eye protection.

smithereens might be a bit excessive (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371015)

I'm generally happy to drill a few holes through different parts of the platters and then just whack the whole thing a couple times with a hammer. Sure, someone with a the right equipment and a lot of time on their hands could potentially take the drive apart, and pull some data off the undamaged parts of the disk, but my data isn't worth the trouble.

That being said, I've sometimes smashed them further just for the fun of it, and completely obliterating a drive is a lot harder than you'd originally think. Sure, it stops being functional after you smash it a few times, but it doesn't just bust open and have its guts spill out everywhere. Those little things are solid. It'd be much faster to take one apart with the proper screwdriver set than it is with a claw hammer.

Cool method (2, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371021)

"It sounds extreme, but the only way to be 100% safe is to smash your hard drive into smithereens."

And I know of a great [tinypic.com] way to do that.

New security device (1)

Ragein (901507) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371031)

The Disk hammer espescially designed for "wipeing" out those problamatic data stains.

Return merchandise authorization (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371057)

Because those smithereens contain environmentally harmful materials, they should be recycled - for instance at the vendor from whom a new hard drive is purchased.

Or just RMA it.
Dear Seagate, I've only had your drive a few weeks and it smash itself to smithereens.

Stupid (1, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371069)

Or you could, you know, overwrite the bits with new garbage data.

At work, we've had dealings with data recovery labs and they've never, ever been able to retrieve anything useful.

Whats the problem with... (1)

TuxThePenguin2205 (1031140) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371071)

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda Could a disk so written be recovered?

Re:Whats the problem with... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371167)

Possibly, a single write of zeroes would leave some residual magnetism. It could not be read with the standard drive head; we are talking government agents and slashdot hardware hackers on a bet here - not your standard identity thief.

Re:Whats the problem with... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371405)

It's highly doubtful that even a government agency could do it. Certainly nobody is going to be doing it at home, not at the kind of data densities you have on modern drives.

Re:Whats the problem with... (3, Interesting)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371313)

It is possible to reread some data from a zeroed (or oned (sp?)) disk. Pretty obscure, but I think it is to do with the threshold values of zero and one. For example, writing a location in sequence with 1,1,0 will result in a measurable [ though below threshold ] difference than if it had been 1,0,0. Seagate and the like do their best to squeeze this to the absolute minimum, thus maximizing utilization of the magnetic disc. I suspect it is much harder to recover anything meaningful from a 1TB platter than from a 5MB platter.

The other leak is with remapped sectors. Remapped sectors may contain live data, but have been switched out of use because they were unreliable. Flash has the same problem.

dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/sda takes care of the first problem - if you more paranoid than that, you should probably stop whatever it is you are doing.

You need a custom tool to access the remapped sectors.

Re:Whats the problem with... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371429)

It is possible to reread some data from a zeroed (or oned (sp?)) disk.

No, this is mostly a myth. There is no known instance of anybody doing this, especially not with a modern hard drive with the insane data density they have these days.

Re:Whats the problem with... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371509)

Come on people! Zeroing a disk drive only removes half of your data. The other half is unchanged and still perfectly readable!

Re:Whats the problem with... (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371425)

Instead, change the input parameter to something like if=goatporn.jpg (adjust other parameters accordingly to overwrite the entire drive) and let them recover it.

My method (2, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371077)

I fill mine with concrete and drop them in the ocean. Stuffed inside an informant, of course.
Nobody will be getting more information from either one.
I am intrigued by the clever use of a hammer in the video, I may have to modify my method slightly.

Re:My method (1)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371197)

I fill mine with concrete and drop them in the ocean. Stuffed inside an informant, of course.
Nobody will be getting more information from either one.
I am intrigued by the clever use of a hammer in the video, I may have to modify my method slightly.

on the hard drive, or the informant?

Windows Vista (2, Funny)

happy_place (632005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371081)

Oh I dunno. I've found Windows vista renders most hardware inoperable. At least this state of the art piece of pc I've had under my desk runs slower than ever, now that it's got the latest/greatest os on it. You could bore identity thieves to death with transparent windows and shiny icons.

Drill Holes (1)

kannibul (534777) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371085)

I drill holes in the HDD's from work. If they have glass platters, they shatter, done deal. If they are metal, they get a hole all the way through every platter.

My thoughts - if someone goes through the effort of trying to retrieve data from a drive in that condition, they've "earned" it.

Maybe I'm ignorant to how some data recoverey techniques are used, but, as far as I understand it, it has to be read from a head while the platter spins. When the head comes across a 1/2" hole, good-bye heads...

Just told my brother this (3, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371095)

His PC died due to dust accumulation (fried mobo, dead power supply, fused RAM) and he asked me what to do with his system. I told him the only thing he needed to worry about was his HD. Told him to drill a few holes in the drive, use a blowtorch in those holes if he still had one (he used to work in home remodeling), smash the drive with a hammer and put it in a bag with his used cat litter (they have two cats).

If someone is desperate enough to want the information on his drive, they're going to have to work for it.

Re:Just told my brother this (4, Funny)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371271)

His PC died due to dust accumulation (fried mobo, dead power supply, fused RAM) and he asked me what to do with his system. I told him the only thing he needed to worry about was his HD. Told him to drill a few holes in the drive, use a blowtorch in those holes if he still had one (he used to work in home remodeling), smash the drive with a hammer and put it in a bag with his used cat litter (they have two cats).

If someone is desperate enough to want the information on his drive, they're going to have to work for it.

Well that depends, what breed of cat?

Re:Just told my brother this (2, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371457)

Well that depends, what breed of cat?

Civet of course - you then get to enjoy the coffee.

Why break a sweat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371113)

when there is a drive deguasser a few steps from my station.

Shredder (4, Interesting)

iCharles (242580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371125)

I periodically contract with a company to dispose of old hardware for my company. The first time i talked to them, they mentioned they shredded old media. I assumed he meant floppies and tapes and the like. Given the nature of the material, it didn't seem that impressive, but certainly nice. When I got the estimate, I was a bit shocked--why was it so high? Then they explained--by "media," they meant hard drives. They sent me a PDF on the equipment. Hard drives are removed from machines, and placed on a conveyor belt. This fed the hard drive into the shredder. On the other end, bits of metal came out. I begged them to let me operate it--just for one or two drives. Damn lawyers!

Re:Shredder (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371255)

I saw this at a recycling company near where I work, they are subcontracted to dispose of drives for a legal firm, each time apparently the legal firm sends a man with a camcorder to record it being done.

It's like a wood-chipper, but for metal... I'm glad I didn't hear the noise it must make...

Article or Ontrack Promotional Video? (5, Insightful)

AngryNick (891056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371137)

There was nothing of substance in the video. The guy smashed his drive, Ontrack said it was smashed and couldn't be recovered...but then went on to say, "But we are really good at restoring water damaged drives!"

The whole discussion is made pointless when Ontrack says, "Oh, we can't restore a zero'd drives either."

Sure, it works, but ... (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371149)

Seriously, can't we feed starving children with these obselete hard drives?
Or cure cancer, or aids by grinding them up and snorting the powdered hard-drive?
We could donate them all to nigera to kickstart their fledgling tech-as-infrastructure construction economy!
Or reverse the polarity of the magnetic field of the sun by launching the magnets into the sun
Or use them as anger management therapy for behaviour therapy kids ....

Office space... (1)

Stormshadow (41368) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371219)

PC LOADLETTER, What the hell does that mean?!

  Drag it out in a field with you, a few friends, a baseball bat with some good angry background music.

  That said, rifles are much better for this. 5.56mm AP rounds do really cool/fun things to HDs :)

dban or the grinding wheel (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371223)

I agree with the other posters about dban. For most hard drives it is the best choice.

Magnets are not reliable and because they may render portions of the media unreadable, you can't tell whether everything was wiped.

I had an old SCSI hard drive that dban could not write to. I disassembled it and ground each disc into dust with a grinding wheel.

Some ideas for destruction (3, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371229)

Revision3 [revision3.com]'s Systm [revision3.com] show had an episode that suggested some ways for destroying a hard drive yourself [revision3.com]. They took the position that using a program like Boot'nNuke [dban.org], which overwrites data 1-N times at your choosing, is sufficient to sanitize data without destroying the drive.

If you want to go the nuclear option, they demonstrated some favorites: mangling the platters in a vice, dremel or hand grinder, propane or cutting torch, melting it in thermite, etc.

A hospital I worked for once, when decommissioning old computers, would take the hard drive over to a drill press and put a couple holes through it. Nowadays I think they've bought a drive shredder.

Recovering data from a wiped drive (1)

RabidChicken (684107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371237)

Is there a single case of someone being able to recover usable data from a drive that was properly wiped more than once with random data? More importantly, has there ever been a case that DOESN'T involve advanced recovery tools that only governments have access to?

target practice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371241)

Seems to me an old hard drive would make great target practice as well...

My personal favorite (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371249)

1) dismantle the drive and twist the platters with heavy pliers into the shape of an ash tray

2) drill through the platters several times (with a half inch/ 1cm drill), then let soak in a bucket of salt water for a month to corrode everything together.

Save some parts (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371275)

If you do decide to go nuclear on your old drive, take it apart and salvage some parts first. The magnets used in the voice coil (which positions the read arm over the platters) are pretty strong and handy to have. The motor for the platters is compact and powerful and very smooth.

If you are satisfied to just wipe the drive, but not destroy it, and you have no further use for it, may I suggest making wind chimes from the platters [makezine.com].

Big nail? (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371369)

If I'm going to throw a drive away, I zero the partitions out and then drive a big 16 penny nail through the enclosure & platter(s). When it's done, it sounds like a box of crackers when shaken. I'd rather see things reused or recycled but what demand is there for a 1.2Gb drive these days?

Thermite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371373)

Or small amount of thermite over the platters and ignite. Result platters will be a molten pool of slag.

Give the disk to my girlfriend . . . (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371407)

. . . and tell her to put it in a safe place, and that you might need it later.

It's gone forever.

There is no chance that anyone will ever have access to that disk again.

pr0n (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371415)

My theory is that filling the drive repeatedly with porn videos will sufficiently destroy any personal data by overwriting. Therefore all drives should be relegated to porn storage duties for at least one year before disposal. That's not a server full of porn in the corner, it's a data security device!

Much more cathartic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26371499)

Take your old hard drive out to the shooting range. Don't bother with a plinker like a .22LR... Get something that has some serious kinetic energy like 230 grains of American .44. Holes... Heat... Distortion... Geeks with Guns --- GOOD!!

Protect your identity when moving to a new compute (1)

portnux (630256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371527)

Or just do what I do, keep the harddrive. Store archival data to it, label it and stack it with others on the shelf.

just how paranoid are you? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371537)

Simply deleting the files doesn't remove the file data from the hard disk, all it does is remove the directory entries. That's why undelete utilities can work. If you delete the entries from the 'trash can' this makes the disk space that was used to contain the file data available to be over written, but until new files actually DO overwrite the space formerly occupied by the deleted files the data is still there. It would take some geek effort to reconstruct the data by stringing the correct sectors together in the correct order. Something like gluing documents from a paper shredder back together again.

Formating a hard disk doesn't write over EVERYTHING, it does zero out all the directory sectors, and all the allocation tables. What the format operation should be called is 'make file system', which is what Linux actually DOES call this command. Under the Linux mkfs commands there is an option to write some data pattern (or just 'zeros') over every sector that will be used for file data when creating a file system. This can take hours on a large hard disk, but it is what you want to do to make sure your data is really erased from the hard disk. Another way is to perform a complete low level format, this requires the disk drive makers own software tools.

Even if you actually DO over write the entire disk with some data pattern it might still be possible to recover the data, but this will require special hardware to perform an analog read of the disk and special DSP software to re-construct the data from what ever latent image remains on the disk. This is true CIA type stuff, unless you are on the FBI's most wanted list no one is going to go through that kind of trouble to read data off your thrown away hard disk!

Which - not exactly authoritative (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371543)

'Which' in the UK are an interesting bunch. Most people that subscribe think very highly of their thorough testing and methods until they read something on a subject they understand and then they realise they're by and large clueless. I've lost count of the number of people I know who used to praise them until their pet subject got featured be that HiFi, computers or washing machines. At that point, they generally cancel their sub.
This very article pretty much confirms that as 'experts' all say Which was going too far.

My favourite method for 3.5" HDDs - the best imho (2, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26371559)

- Take old drive.
- Screw drive apart. (Might require Torx screwdriver or bit)
- Take percision manufactured aluminum seperation washers and use them as keyrings, strap-loops or simular stuff.
- Take drive platters and work over them with fine grained sandpaper.
- Move head magnets over them a few times.
- Work over them with even finer grain afterwards.
- Dishwash platters and polish afterwards.
- Dry and clean platters.
- Precisely glue thick undied felt to one side of platter using cut-to-fit carpet tape.
- Cut out platter shape and hole with a sharp knife.
- Use and/or sell as avantgarde design coasters (10$ - 12$ a piece).
- Bring the rest of the dives to recycling, seperating electronics from scrap metal first.

No way anybody will recover any usefull data of a platter after this treatment. And the platter will look like in mint condition. And they make way cool coasters.

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