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What To Do With Old USB Keys, Low-Capacity Hard Drives?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the send-it-to-timothy-no-really dept.

Data Storage 546

MessedRocker writes "I have at least a few USB flash drives around that I haven't needed since I got my 16GB flash drive, a 40GB external hard drive which I haven't needed since I upgraded to 500GB, and a couple of SATA hard drives I have pulled out of laptops which are either as large or smaller than the one I have in my laptop now. Furthermore, I don't really know anyone who needs any hard drives or flash drives. What should I do with my small, obsolete storage devices?"

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Dont know. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135389)

Really.

ebay maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135391)

Or there's always software raid.

Re:ebay maybe? (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135585)

You could ebay them, if your time is worth nothing. To prep them, you'd have to mount them on a machine and securely wipe them (on a windows box download sdelete [microsoft.com] for free from sysinternals.) Use the -z option to wipe free space (critical for cleaning flash drives.)

Old drives are not as energy efficient as modern drives, so they cost more to spin -- a RAID would just be an expensive storage container. So unless you have a need for old, small drives (say an old, small machine) the safest advice would be to destroy them.

I like playing with neodymium magnets, so I take my drives apart and harvest them. Bending and flexing the platters will render them unreadable by almost anyone but the NSA, so unless you're protecting treasonable secrets, it's probably not worth the effort to do much more damage than that. (Be careful, glass platters don't flex - they shatter.) If you are that paranoid, heating them beyond their Curie point will absolutely destroy any stored information.

Re:ebay maybe? (4, Informative)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135811)

Or just do

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/disk bs=1k

It hasn't been successfully recovered from, to my knowledge

Re:ebay maybe? (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136007)

Given that most (if not all) flash drives use wear leveling, can flash drives be wiped by software?

Re:ebay maybe? (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136233)

sdelete -z works by creating random-filled temporary files on a drive until all space is filled, then it deletes the temporary files. The concept should work equally well on a flash drive.

Chuck'em out (1)

canthusus (463707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135397)

Chuck'em out.

Re:Chuck'em out (5, Interesting)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135527)

Don't just chuck them. Look for a high-school that has a proper computer engineering program, and drop them off there. Whether you give them to the teachers or the students directly, they'll love you for it.

I remember building and disassembling many a computer in my class before I was able to install windows 95 (and subsequently, starcraft) on them.

Re:Chuck'em out (5, Interesting)

yashachan (1422227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135697)

Wait, high schools have computer engineering programs?! My high school seemed to be interested in finding the least qualified teacher possible for our computer-related classes, even though I found a professor from a prestigious university who was willing to teach the computer science classes. So not fair. :(

Re:Chuck'em out (2, Insightful)

all5n (1239664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136089)

Yeah but he was not in the teachers union. Can't have non-union teachers running around out there causing problems.

Re:Chuck'em out (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136053)

Don't just chuck them. Look for a high-school that has a proper computer engineering program, and drop them off there.

Not only young people, but old people too. My parents and in-laws have just discovered these little devices. They're apparently still using floppy disks! I'm planning on ordering a bunch of them and giving them as mother's/father's day presents.

Re:Chuck'em out (5, Informative)

amori (1424659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136105)

A) Install USB linux on one of them. They come in handy when repairing computers. B) Pass them to close friends, or colleagues at work, they'll give it to their children. C) Give it to your neighbor.

Re:Chuck'em out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136197)

I remember building and disassembling many a computer in my class before I was able to install windows 95 (and subsequently, starcraft) on them.

Me to, fun times.

Re:Chuck'em out (1)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136391)

Donating is a good idea I am sure someone could find something to do with them. I would often use flash pens instead of a hard drive on old computers with Damn Small Linux, Puppy, or Slax installed. I found it was often the hard drive that slowed down older PCs and none of the other hardware. Also buying a hard drive is a waste of money if using an older PC, paying 80 bucks is a big invest when you can just use a 1 gig flash pen that someone else thinks is worthless.

Donate to a school or charity (4, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135399)

Scrub the data then donate it to charity or a school. If they can't use it they can give it away to a client or resell it.

I'm sure some /.ers have some 5 or 10MB drives in their closets.

Re:Donate to a school or charity (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135661)

Local computer recyclers/refurbishers could certainly use them as well.

Donated computers are far too often stripped of hard drives for "security" reasons. They need hard drive donations more than anything else.

Re:Donate to a school or charity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135911)

Scrub the data...

...and encrypt the disk with truecrypt and devise some means to make them suspicious to the government.
You might save a few jobs that way.

just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135407)

eBay

Re:just (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135459)

or MEbay.

If you live in QC, Canada, I'll take them from you.

One word... (4, Informative)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135413)

FreeGeek [freegeek.org] .

Re:One word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136151)

One reply...
slashdotted!

Re:One word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136243)

I love Portland, and Freegeek for being here!

charity donation? Freecycle? (4, Insightful)

ensnaredlight (1033008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135421)

find a local charity to donate them, or if nothing else then just freecycle it, somebody will take you up on it!

if you don't want them (1)

two basket skinner (1288246) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135427)

i'll take them

Simple (3, Funny)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135431)

Do what I did to my old printer that kept telling me to "PC load letter".

Re:Simple (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135561)

Do what I did to my old printer that kept telling me to "PC load letter".

Hitting a thumb drive with a hammer is not nearly as satisfying as elbow dropping a printer. It's one and done.

Re:Simple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135749)

Do what I did to my old printer that kept telling me to "PC load letter".

Load 'letter' sized paper into the paper cassette tray and continue?

Re:Simple (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135995)

I'm sorry, but that's just not how we do things around here. If the printer is doing anything other than printing your document, the correct solution is to wander aimlessly away and hope someone else will eventually fix it. As an added bonus, you get to tell everyone the printer is broken, and that's why you weren't able to get any work done today.

Re:Simple (0, Redundant)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135857)

Do what I did to my old printer that kept telling me to "PC load letter".

What? Load the paper cassette with letter sized paper?

Re:Simple (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136323)

No, you need to tell MS Word to print everything on A4 sized paper. Then you won't get that error message.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136001)

Mmmmm yeah, frodo from the middle east? I'm gonna need that TPS report on my desk by 5 o'clock.

Just recycle them (3, Informative)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135437)

With the higher energy consumptions of older drives it's just more economical to recycle.

Older flash drives will be unreliable soon.

So I suggest the obvious: just recycle or find someone locally, who wants the stuff (poor student etc...) But do not send to Africa because I feel it's just shifting the problem and the cost of shipping is not worth it for whoever does it.

Re:Just recycle them (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135915)

the cost of shipping is not worth it for whoever does it.

The Africans making a living taking care of our electronics "waste" would probably disagree with you.

Just because we don't consider it worth our health to use nasty chemicals to reclaim metals from scrap boards, doesn't mean no one should want to do it.

Re:Just recycle them (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136297)

It IS our concern whether or not "nasty chemicals" are used. Once they're in the environment, it's only a matter of time before we all get affected.

Store small, high-value secrets (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135445)

Type up your passwords and encryption keys and put the device in a safe somewhere.

It seems like a 1 kilobyte file is more likely to last on a hard drive if you store 50 million copies of it. (And if you store 500,000 copies of the file on a CD, you're less likely to be screwed by a scratch.) Is there an easy way to automate this duplication? Some weird "very small, very-high-repetition on same volume" file system, or just a perl script?

Re:Store small, high-value secrets (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135865)

I'd probably just use perl.


$data = "your data to be written a zillion times";
$x = 0;

while(1){
open(OUT >"$x.txt") || die "Unable to create file $x.txt = $!";
print OUT $data;
close(OUT);
$x++;
}

It'll keep running until the disk runs out of space, or maybe until X overflows it's type, which I suppose is possible, though unlikely.

Re:Store small, high-value secrets (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135965)

Par2. Instead of 20% redundancy, try something like 500,000,000% redundancy. Sure it'll take forever to generate, but then any random 1k you can pull off of the drive will be sufficient to recreate your original file.

Re:Store small, high-value secrets (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136181)

Is there an easy way to automate this duplication? Some weird "very small, very-high-repetition on same volume" file system, or just a perl script?

windows cmd: FOR /L %X IN (0,1,965957) DO copy foo.txt foo%X.txt
bash: X=0 ; while [ $X -lt 965958 ] ; do cp foo.txt foo${X}.txt ; X=`expr $X + 1`; done

Re:Store small, high-value secrets (1)

anonymousmeatbag (1412737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136185)

I have used all my hard drives under 2GB for routers/wireless nodes.
I keep my pass-phrases / passwords, encryption software on old thumb drives that have lock button. There is no other use I can think of today for a thumb drive of size 32-128MB today.

Become a porn secret santa (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135447)

Load them up with porn and give them to random people anonymously. They will thank you for it!

Re:Become a porn secret santa (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135817)

Your plan is nice and all, but it lacks the life-destroying element that a truly diabolical plan should have.

What he should do is load them up with child porn and sneak them into the briefcases of all the people who have wronged him. He does keep a list of everyone who has ever wronged him labeled "people to utterly destroy", right? Doesn't everybody?

Anyway, after you've done that, place anonymous calls to the FBI from various pay phones saying you've seen these people loitering around elementary schools. Then, sit back and watch your problems disappear.

Re:Become a porn secret santa (1)

jetsci (1470207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136241)

I can't help but think all the guys who get busted with kiddy porn are just victims of...you. Oh man...think of that one...*evil grin*

Re:Become a porn secret santa (4, Funny)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136175)

Load them up with porn and give them to random people anonymously. They will thank you for it!

Done and done! I made sure to include two girls and one cup, Mr. Hands, and the awesome Glass Ass a couple of dozen times, but I helpfully changed their names.

Well, it's almost Easter. And that's sort of an Easter Egg.

I wonder how they'll thank me?

Re:Become a porn secret santa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136405)

I believe that qualifies you to be on somebody's "people to utterly destroy" list. See eln's post...

If somebody gives you a spare hard drive, dump it!

Disassemble and build Bedini Engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135451)

Strong magnets, good precice and silent bearings, very useful for (Google "Bedini Engine")

Give them to CowboyNeal (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135455)

This should about double the /. server storage space.

You'll need to throw in ISA SATA and USB cards though.

Microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135467)

Microwave, 5 seconds should do the trick.

Re:Microwave (2, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136003)

You forgot to tell him to stand in front of it to make sure it cooks properly.
Hard drives are a lot like hot dogs, you don't wanna cook them without your face right there next to the glass.

Move 'em down the line (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135471)

The 250 giggers are on the nas box holding backups, one 100 gig laptop drive replaced the 40 gig drive on the Apple TV, the other is holding a copy of Windows 7 so I didn't bork the Ubuntu drive on the media box...

The 512 mb sd cards, OTOH, pitch 'em. I can't believe I'm saying this, but half a gig just isn't enough space to do anything with...movies are 700 Mb, as are most distros. (I use unetbootin to get away from burning CD's when testing out new distros these days.)

That's the price of progress, I guess.

Now, count the number of mass storage devices you have, between phones, DVR's, game machines, MP3 players, etc.

I disagree - even 64MB is good for some things (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135551)

I use sub-GB sticks like floppies of yore when I don't have a LAN available. They are more convenient than a CD-R.

Re:I disagree - even 64MB is good for some things (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136359)

yeah, but 4 gb devices are _$8_ at Microcenter.

Re:Move 'em down the line (2, Insightful)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135917)

For massive media, maybe 512MB is small. Movies and such, no way, I agree there.

On the other hand, my 512MB card has massive amounts of e-books, saved web pages that have since disappeared off the net, tiddlywikis of my personal information, backups of gnucash files and web sites I've developed over the years ...

A small SD can be functional too. I write my NaNoWriMos on one and carry it around with me along with a keychain CD card reader. Any time the inspiration hits me, I can plug in to any computer with a free USB port and add to my word count.

You'd be surprised how much can fit on 512MB when you go beyond movies n' music.

Re:Move 'em down the line (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135997)

512MB stores every article I've ever written and both books. It stores every picture I've ever taken with my phone camera. It stores several hours of audio. It stores all of the code I've released to the public.

It's inadequate for video, and cramped for audio, but for text and vector images, 512MB is still a lot. For bitmap images, it depends on the size and compression.

Re:Move 'em down the line (1)

AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136265)

You can mail your 512MB SD cards to me, if you want. For older digital cameras (3 or 4 megapixels, like many of my family and friends still use) 512MB will hold a few hundred shots, and even with higher-resolution cameras, that size could be a good emergency backup to keep in the camera bag if you fill up your big cards.

Seriously. (3, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135475)

Mail them to me.

Schools (1)

meridoc (134765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135483)

...especially high schools, for those seniors trying to write final, massive papers, and (now fairly late) college essays. A school I worked at had a sign-out sheet for them, so kids could take their half-typed papers home.

Starcraft on a stick. (5, Interesting)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135497)

http://www.yellowchrome.org/1com/galaxytribune/sos.html [yellowchrome.org]

Whats better than whipping it out and playing some starcraft?

Re:Starcraft on a stick. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135685)

Whats better than whipping it out and playing some starcraft?

Whipping it out is always good, Starcraft's just a bonus.

Re:Starcraft on a stick. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135895)

Anything. Starcraft sucks.

I don't know about anyone else (1)

apdyck (1010443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135501)

When I have obsolete hardware I put it in a cardboard box and put it out by the curb...it's gone within an hour or so. Of course, I live in the downtown area of my city, dominated by lower-income residential housing, and there is always someone that wants the hardware. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't go to the dump, it gets picked up by people who want old computer parts. There's a market for everything, even if it's not going to be profitable :)

Re:I don't know about anyone else (2, Interesting)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135975)

Like most geeks, Computer hardware just seems to be magnetically attracted to me. When I bought my house, I decided I needed to get rid of a lot of my old useless hardware. In the end I threw out 15 desktops, 3 old craptops, and 1 dumb terminal. I put everything beside the dumpster. It was all gone by the next morning. I hope someone got a lot of use out of all that old hardware.

Re:I don't know about anyone else (1)

apdyck (1010443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136341)

I have been on both sides of this transaction myself...the last thing I picked up was for nostalgia, a 5 1/2" floppy drive (I have no disks to use with it, but I wanted it anyways). In the past I have picked up a number of gems, including two (yes, someone was tossing two of them) Commodore 64s and one functional C64 monitor (which my brother still uses for his gaming consoles. Someone's trash is almost always someone else's treasure when it comes to electronics.

A great idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135515)

Re-create the Office Space scene where they smash the printer. It's been done before, but still fun I'd assume. Swap in hardware in place of printer, and you're good to go.

=]

Re:A great idea. (3, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135641)

Its only really fun if they've burned you. If they've served you faithfully, what kind of treatment is that? I say take them out viking style : take a toy ship to carry them into the afterworld, set it ablaze with a flaming arrow while chanting some nordic verse.

Valhalla awaits:
, Platter sure, heads swift
glorious memory
failed us not.

Rescue Sticks (2, Informative)

SStrungis (629260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135535)

Putting a live XP or Linux distribution onto it makes it a fine rescue disk.
Give 'em to your church.
Use them for backups of small things.
Add them to the internal usb ports on your pc or pci card for some hidden always-available storage.

S

portable linux (5, Insightful)

thegreatemu (1457577) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135543)

I can't speak for small hard drives, but a great thing you can do with a 40 GB external hard drive is to install a persistent live linux disk to it. One of the best seems to be portable linux [rudd-o.com] . That way, you always have a bootable OS around which will work with just about any hardware that can boot from USB, which is really valuable for troubleshooting, etc. I use mine to do things like fix grub problems, or use gparted to resize partitions, etc. With a persistence-capable live distro, you can customize all your settings and install any tools you like which aren't included on the default live disk, and even treat it as a mobile home when you're traveling.

This question again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135555)

Over and over we have hardware that we want to utilize in some way but frankly there is not use for it that wouldn't cost more then buying new hardware or is unreliable. The answers usually boil down to:
a) Donate it - Schools, churches, family, ect.
b) Recycle it - Local or cooperate recycling centers
c) Destroy it - In some extravagant fashion involving lots of fire, gravity or explosives. This option you are required to film it and post it to the internet if only so we can criticize it and whine about what a waste it is to destroy your hardware and how we could have put it to use.

Donate (1)

PCRanger (1166501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135579)

Zero wipe them, then donate them to schools or charities which send computers to less fortunate countries or maybe academic research institutes.

What I normally do is (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135609)

Take them to a recycling center, so they can be loaded onto container ships and sent to China so they can have their precious metals reclaimed over a charcoal fire.

Re:What I normally do is (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136279)

Not all recyclers export to China. http://www.file13usa.com/ [file13usa.com] for example, uses a charcoal fire here in the US!

-Rick

Keep 'em around (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135611)

I keep as many old computer parts around as I can find room for. They are good as spare parts and for building extra machines.

Drives in particular are good for keeping backups on. If you are about to install a new OS for example, you can just dump an image of you current setup on an old drive and just keep it in a drawer somewhere.

If you have a flash drive that you suspect wont take much more writing you can install a tool set on it and then just keep it around for emergencies.

Compact flash cards can be used as IDE drives if you get a tiny, cheap bit of hardware. ( Use it to boot a small linux distro to a ram disk. Perfect for a quick booting terminal box, router or light weight server. )

I guess you just need to tinker more. :D

Toss 'em (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135649)

You don't have a use for them, so what makes you think someone else will?

If you're not worried about the possibility of someone recovering sensitive data off of them, donate them to some charity...Maybe someone there will find a use for them, but don't be surprised if they refuse your tech junk: they won't want to pay the disposal fee either.

Re:Toss 'em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135921)

I have many students in class that don't have them and could use a free one.

Re:Toss 'em (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136187)

You don't have a use for them, so what makes you think someone else will?

Did congress pass a requirements homogenisation and levelling bill? I have no use for tampons, but I suspect roughly half the population might find somethng to - you know, do - with them.

Good times (4, Funny)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135657)

Explosives + Old Hardware = Good Times!

Re:Good times (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136395)

Explosives + Zealous Police = Hard Time!

The answer is obvious (5, Informative)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135659)

Go back in time to 1960 and sell them for several hundred million each.

Backups (5, Insightful)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135669)

You cannot have too many backups. Old drives are perfect. Mount 'em, fill 'em with your configs, docs, etc. and put 'em away. Just make sure you always have the appropriate hardware and kernel support to read them if necessary.

Mine are ATA/IDE, and these interfaces will be deprecated very soon, I hear. So keep at least one IDE/ATA-to-USB housing around if you need their data.

MOD PARENT UP (0, Redundant)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135879)

Yah, I was going to say extra backups, but you beat me to it. They're much quicker to pull data back from than tape or DVD, and if they fail you haven't lost anything but the couple of minutes you spend slotting it in to an external drive enclosure.

Raid! (5, Funny)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135671)

We've seen the awesomeness of floppy drive RAID [mac-guild.org] . Memstick RAID will blow that away!

GreenDisk (1)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135683)

http://www.greendisk.com

one word (4, Interesting)

NudeAvenger (1391803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135689)

ART!!!

Create your own videos (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135703)

Will they blend?!

Only one thing to do... (4, Funny)

kinnell (607819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135737)

Blend it! [willitblend.com]

Hall of Obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27135753)

I would definitely picture frame them.

Increase HD capacity in three steps (1)

mergy (42601) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135913)

1. Buy a Black Sharpie(TM) pen (the thin sharpie would be best in my past experience). 2. Locate the reference to the drive size on the manufacturers label located on the top of the drive enclosure (typically in GB). 3. Gently (as to not damage the disk platter below the label and enclosure) using the Sharpie(TM) cross out that number and replace with the desired capacity above or below the factory stamped capacity. NOTE: depending on how the drive manufacturer has detailed the size on the label, you might have space above the factory size reference or below the reference.

Format them and donate to goodwill (3, Interesting)

You Don't Know Me (265497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135941)

or salvation army or whoever in your city will take them (Austin TX has a very active Goodwill Computer Store).

Full format them first (not perfect, but there are so many drives with data on them that it is unlikely that someone will go to great lengths to read the edges of formatted tracks). If they don't format then break them down (cool magnets and platters that are better for target practice than CDs - they don't shred as easily).

Keep a few around, especially USB keys - better than burning something to CD is you need to hand data to someone.

HDD Domino and Modding Ideas (1)

wehe (135130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27135967)

You may collect some more HDDs and arrange them into a domino game. See Youtube for videos if you need some tips. Repair4HardDisk has a collection of modding ideas for old or dead hard disk drives [repair4harddisk.org] , for example making a clock from the platters. Here is a resource of modding ideas for USB sticks [repair4laptop.org] , too.

Build a SSD! (1)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136009)

Would that be possible to combine these USB keys to build a bigger (if not fast) SSD? Considering USB is serial, I am sure you could do somthing useful out of them.

Small USB sticks are good for asterisk (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136047)

...subject says it all really. Check out the astlinux distribution.

Machine Configuration Control (3, Interesting)

fwice (841569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136057)

I build all of my rack machines from the same ISO image (well, images. One for Linux, one for OS X).

Within this image, there is a script that runs at boot time that checks for the presence of a USB Drive. If there is a USB Drive, the script will place machine specific configuration files from the USB Key onto the machine in question, so that the machine no longer holds a vanilla install, but instead a completely unique version.

This is great for replacing a down machine on a network -- if 'node1.example.com' goes down, just grab a waiting, fresh machine from the stock pile, insert the usb key labeled 'node1', and start the machine, and watch as the machine takes on the persona of 'node1' without user interaction. Kind of similar to a kickstart script, but with the versatility of being able to change an already configured machine.

Its call Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks for (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136083)

Its call Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks for a reason. Seriously thats one of the reasons RAID was invented. I want to see what a few hundered 1 gig flash drives would do in a massive stripe :)

Backup your important data. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136133)

Oh wait. Dumb idea.

 

Data safety with extreme prejudice using a hammer (2, Interesting)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136147)

With the very low cost of storage nowadays, I would not bother reusing or donating the drives. Take out the platters of the HDD, or the whole USB key, and go smashy smashy with a hammer. Collect the pieces and take it to a electronics recycling center. One nice side effect, is the smashy smashy bit is a great stress reliever, just wear safety glasses and perhaps gloves.

Part and donate.. (5, Interesting)

chaboud (231590) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136155)

Hard drives have strong (and small) magnets in them which are fun to play with, useful on your fridge, useful in woodshops (hanging tools), and probably useful just about anywhere.

Little flash drives, even 8MB ones, can be useful for students and library users. Donate those puppies, please.

Spread Stuff (2, Interesting)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136169)

Put something on the USB key which you deem important to know (hear, see, read etc.), then 'lose' it somewhere. Someone might find it and check what's on it.

OK, there's the internet. Hm.. But I'd guess that people value a found piece of hardware higher than some arbitrary web page.

Re:Spread Stuff (3, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136231)

Go a little farther: collect strange images from the web (craption, photoshop contests, orsm, etc), put them on and sprinkle with false user info before you 'lose' it; with a possible "If found please contact..." with almost valid info refering to slashdot, facebook or other social sites. Use existing usernames of friends (?) as references. Watch as the fun unfolds on the net.

Donate to school libraries (4, Insightful)

ckpurvis (410517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27136219)

Libraries, especially school libraries, often have a need for portable storage devices to help patrons move files around, for instance from one computer to another. Big drives get stolen, but old small ones don't so much. And if an old obsolete drive is taken, then it was free to the library.

Other public or semi-public computer labs probably could use them too. Think job centers, state-funded computer training groups, underfunded K12 schools, et c.

I found a camera in the woods... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27136257)

Put cool pictures on them, then leave it to be found by some curious person.

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