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Secure Hard Drive Deletion Appliance?

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the write-a-lot-of-xs-and-os dept.

Data Storage 573

An anonymous reader asks "I am searching for a box into which I can plug a hard drive (IDE or SCSI of various flavors) and automatically begin a secure deletion process (DoD 2250 compliant or the like would be good). This is normally for dead drives which need to be RMA-ed. Because of various regulations (HIPAA for starters), we need to at least attempt to do a good job clearing the disk. I've heard from a number of places, including this Slashdot story, that degaussing isn't great. There are software solutions out there, but in general, I want to toss a replacement hard drive in and not have to hunt around for hardware to put the bad drive in in order to run the software. Given the right case, a solid state drive, some SCSI cards and one of various pieces of software, I can imagine such a beast. Has anyone seen someone selling something like this?" No case-opening is necessary to use a USB/IDE converter, which might be a good middle ground. Any other ideas?

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573 comments

Still Risky (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | about 9 years ago | (#12206596)

If you have something so important, it might be best to destroy/keep the dead drives and pay for new ones, which aren't that expensive compared to the risk of someone finding out a way to recover your data even after it's been processed by the state-of-the-art secure deletion processor.

I believe the information is secured only if it's still in your hand.

Re:Still Risky (0)

Cutriss (262920) | about 9 years ago | (#12206663)

I believe the information is secured only if it's still in your hand.

What if it's in your hand, and my hand too? Is it still secure then?

Re:Still Risky (1)

Aeiri (713218) | about 9 years ago | (#12206734)

No, because you might have an atomic level reading device that can store every peice of information that those atoms store, and decode it later at your own convenience, without the HD in your hand.

Re:Still Risky (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206709)

If you've got strict security regs I suggest smashing the disk on a concrete floor with a 5 pound hammer. You can SHOW the security officer that you're in compliance. You can't do that with a degausser. Hit it hard enough to bend the platters. Hit it again. Doesn't that feel good ?
Any magnet that could degauss a modern disk would blow the circuit board and (I think) remove the sync tracks making it useless, anyway. We're talking MRI magnets and flying metal objects that can injure people.

I say... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206767)

I say we take off and EMP nuke them from space. It's the only way to be sure.

Have you THOUGHT that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206770)

maybe in his case the expected risk is nonzero, but still less than the cost of the harddrive?

I mean, obviously he must have considered (and dismissed) the obvious DeSTroY DA DrIvE before asking his question.

Safest Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206773)

The best method for securely erasing data from Hard Disks is to configure the jumpers correctly; the jumpers that normally choose master/slave, if you jumper *all eight* connecters and then power up your PC, the drive will be securely erased. Then remove the jumpers and reformat.

Question Mark ... (2, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | about 9 years ago | (#12206599)

Re:Oh, man. Hear it comes. (Score:5, Informative)
by QuaZar666 (164830) Alter Relationship on Thu 16 Jan 04:03AM (#5091822)
Now days the dod drills a hole through the platter on drives that are bad that have to be RMA'd and have contracts so all they have to return is the top of the drive with the label. as for drives they no longer need i do not know. im guessing they write 0 and 1 patterns on the drive 7+ times. (even then data recovery services could recover it)

Silly, but I have this association:
Ground control to major tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, major tom?

CC.

Re:Question Mark ... (1)

winkydink (650484) | about 9 years ago | (#12206659)

The data density per square inch on modern drives is such that drilling a whole through the platter leaves a LOT of data behind that can be recovered by a determined person. I suspect that classified drives are still destroyed much more thoroughly than this.

Re:Question Mark ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206735)

I suspect that classified drives are still destroyed much more thoroughly than this.

Call me a cynic but, I suspect that classified drives are either tossed in a dust bin or sold on eBay i fthey aren't too old.

Re:Question Mark ... (1)

winkydink (650484) | about 9 years ago | (#12206793)

That's front page news, New York Time, top of the fold, if it happens and a long jail sentence for whoever let's it occur.

I recall articles about drives with people's personal stuff on them, but not DOD classified information.

In fact, I recall being in a facility with two networks some years ago. I was politely informed to plug my laptop into network connection A, not network connection B, because if I plugged into network connection B, my laptop was no longer allowed to leave the facility. OK, A it was. :)

Re:Question Mark ... (1)

rgmoore (133276) | about 9 years ago | (#12206753)

I suspect that classified drives are still destroyed much more thoroughly than this.

I'll bet that a little bit of thermite would do the job nicely. Or is that reserved for destroying everything in a hurry while your position is being overrun?

Re:Question Mark ... (2, Funny)

SquadBoy (167263) | about 9 years ago | (#12206834)

One of my jobs in the Air Force was destroying classified drives. This was almost ten years ago and we were much more thorough even back then. Think things that go "boom". I *really* miss that part of the job.

Re:Question Mark ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206665)

Whoa there buddy, lay off the caffeine.

Re:Question Mark ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206714)

Your post is like an Oreo cookie, the stuff in the middle is good, but what is with the crap at the top and the bottom? ;)

Data destruction. (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 9 years ago | (#12206600)

It really depends upon what level of security you are talking about. Degaussing certainly does not do the job adequately enough for some purposes, but the issue of maintaining a box that has all the hardware to be backwards compatible can be cumbersome and expensive. I suspect you are not in a sensitive/classifed government position as they have protocols for this sort of thing, but if you truly have seriously data sensitive needs for hard drives you are going to retire, I would suggest first formatting the drive with multiple writes and reads of serial 1's and 0's which should prevent 99.9% of data recovery attempts. An older G4 tower running OS X, should allow you to recognize and mount drives formatted with a variety of operating systems. Stick a couple of SCSI cards in it and an ATA and SATA card (Sonnet makes a combined card) which should give you multiple SCSI formats, ATA, Firewire and USB depending upon your needs. If you are really paranoid, actually disassembling the drives, degaussing and physically destroying the platters will finish the job. Believe it or not, data can even be reconstructed at the microscopic level through the use of electron microscopy, so the more damage done to the physical media, the harder it is to extract information.

Re:Data destruction. (1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 years ago | (#12206788)

HAHA a G4? Running OSX? AFAIK there is no OS on the planet that can handle reading more partition table formats and handle more actual filesystems than Linux. Also, bad hard drives sometimes kill computers, I have had it happen to me personally. It would be best to use the oldest PCI-bus system you have for this particular task, so if you kill it, you aren't sad when you throw it in the bin.

If you TRULY are worried about the sanctity of your data, it should be written to disk only in encrypted form, the key should be stored on a removable device ONLY, and any unencrypted data means you take the platters out of the drives and melt them down to render them utterly unreadable. (Turning it into metal shavings would probably also do.)

Re:Data destruction. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206835)

>I would suggest first formatting the drive with
>multiple writes and reads of serial 1's and 0's
>which should prevent 99.9% of data recovery
>attempts.

from the manpage of badblocks(8) I saw that:

# badblocks -w /dev/hda

does just this and better :-)

But it's not an hardware solution and in the case of bad hardware could take a lot of time.

Uh, if the hard drive is dead (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 years ago | (#12206605)

Then you're not going to be writing anything to it anyway.

The best you can do is use a degausser, since you can't open the drive without voiding your warranty.

If you care that much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206752)

Don't worry about the warranty. Just shred the drive. If your data is that valuable, the price of the drive doesn't matter by comparison.

Re:Uh, if the hard drive is dead (2, Interesting)

2bitcomputers (864663) | about 9 years ago | (#12206795)

There are various levels of 'dead' For example a drive that is 'clicking' should be backed up and replaced asap, but you could still get usefull data from it. Likewise for a drive that is giving access errors.

Home Depot (3, Funny)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 9 years ago | (#12206610)

...44 Oz. Framing Hammer.

Just explain to the RMA operator how you work for a "major construction contracting firm"...

Re:Home Depot (0, Redundant)

kerskine (46804) | about 9 years ago | (#12206827)

Someone mod this informative - breaking the platters is the only sure-fire way to 'erase' a disk

I need to... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206614)

hide my porn from the NSA. Help!

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206620)

is it mine? I think so

I like French pussy, too. I suppose now it's called Freedom pussy. Just doing my part to improve relations between the good old USA and France.

You could have... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206623)

provided some links, like what the heck is HIPAA? Wikipedia says Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, but that doesn't really make much sense to me.

I realize this was a question and those people who don't know what HIPAA is probably shouldn't be answering, but still...

Re:You could have... (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 9 years ago | (#12206671)

It basically means that everyone who works in the medical industry has to jump through hoops to make sure that anything that could compromise your privacy doesn't get out without your permission. This goes to the extent that when working with MRI images for cross-site study, we have to use custom face-removing software so that someone can't reconstruct what your face looks like from the 3d data. And even then, there are debates about how much skull needs to be removed...

Re:You could have... (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | about 9 years ago | (#12206693)

It's the "accountability" part. Strict regulations on release of private patient information, securing of data, etc.

Re:You could have... (1)

moloney (197410) | about 9 years ago | (#12206715)

It's for privacy reasons. Ever since HIPAA was passed, there are a lot of extra adminitrative steps that health care providers have to do to ensure patient privacy.

Re:You could have... (1)

farmkid (15226) | about 9 years ago | (#12206742)

> Wikipedia says Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

Bingo. The key work here is "accountability". There are _major_ penalties for leaking client health info. I've worked with clients who would not, under any circumstances, email me test data (even though it was supposedly 'clean') unless it was PGP/GPG'd. Or others, who wouldn't email it at all.

If you're talking HIPAA, you're talking paranoia

dban.sourceforge.net (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206624)

dban.sourceforge.net

DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke (4, Informative)

slashjames (789070) | about 9 years ago | (#12206627)

http://dban.sourceforge.net/
Good hardware detection, GPL.

Re:DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke (1)

davidesh (316537) | about 9 years ago | (#12206689)

agreed DBAN is really good and you can customize it to auto-nuke drives... I have used it several times.

Re:DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke (1)

bozojoe (102606) | about 9 years ago | (#12206792)

This is really an awesome utility, and its nearly simple enough to give to computer illiterate friends.

cant say enough good things about DBAN

Norton Diskreet (2, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 9 years ago | (#12206632)

Use good old Norton Diskreet (DOS version) and automate it with a batch file running on a tired old PC set out to pasture. All supplies are available on Ebay.

Re:Norton Diskreet (1)

Murphy Murph (833008) | about 9 years ago | (#12206704)

Use good old Norton Diskreet (DOS version) and automate it with a batch file running on a tired old PC set out to pasture. All supplies are available on Ebay.


In addition, use external USB / Firewire enclosures for the drives. This will not only allow you to easily swap the drives you are cleaning w/o opening the case and rebooting, but will also allow you to run modern large drives easily on the old hardware.

The more I think about it, Norton Diskreet, might very well have issues with USB mounted drives, but plenty of other drive cleaning software has been mentioned in this thread.

Two Ways (2, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | about 9 years ago | (#12206636)

The first is the standard degausser. This may render the drive inoperable, but will erase data securely with just a run through the machine. An example I found was this [datadev.com]. There are many [google.com] more out there.

The second method is to set up a *nix box with some hot swap drive bays and use that (I actually prefer this method). You can find removable bays all over the place and use *nix to format the drive writing all 0s to it.

I don't think anyone makes a machine exactly like you describe, but both of these methods will do the trick. Good luck!

Re:Two Ways (1)

theclam159 (833616) | about 9 years ago | (#12206814)

Wouldn't it be better to have a script constantly write and rewrite 1s and 0s randomly for as long as you have it running, than to just write 0s to it?

no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206640)

we are not going to help you find a rapid way to delete your child porn, fucking pervert

BCWipe (5, Interesting)

jascat (602034) | about 9 years ago | (#12206644)

I have used BCWipe [jetico.com] to declassify Secret hard drives. They have a DOS version you can throw on a MS-DOS boot disk and a linux version you can put on a livecd. Either works equally well.

The Etherkiller (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 9 years ago | (#12206647)

Easy, just use the Etherkiller [fiftythree.org].

(actually, not really; it'd just fry the controller, not the data on the disk)

Re:The Etherkiller (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206686)

If you're uh, lucky, it might catch on fire. I imagine that would provide a bit of data corruption.

Sledgehammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206649)

I've always been a fan of the sledgehammer technique. It's fast, it's cheap, it's easy to maintain. Unfortunately, it pretty much nukes the RMA options.

Drill Press (2, Funny)

LighthouseJ (453757) | about 9 years ago | (#12206650)

Hard drives are so cheap that you can just destroy the hard drive with a drill press. Afterall, they say construction workers that demolish buildings have the highest job satisfaction, you can get your own taste of that.

Re:Drill Press (2, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#12206717)

Have you every tried to use a drill press on a hard drive that is being used? Man... neither have I, but when you do send me the pictures, ok.

Degaussing is the way to go (2, Informative)

ben_fucking_franklin (874287) | about 9 years ago | (#12206656)

These guys [ibas.com] will have a solution for you. They know how to recover the data. They know how to erase it past any hope of recovery.

Disclaimer: Affiliations from past work experience.

Protein Stains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206657)

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Choose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206660)

Automatic
DoD 2250
RMA

Choose any two. You can't achieve three.

Unscrewed segment covered topic (4, Informative)

wherley (42799) | about 9 years ago | (#12206664)

See http://www.g4tv.com/unscrewed/features/45707/Dark_ Tip_Destroy_All_Data.html [g4tv.com]
have a few pieces of s/w and h/w mentioned there. use the floppy method on a standalone machine to plug your disk into and wipe it. try Darik's Boot and Nuke method: http://dban.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

This will not work... (2, Funny)

CupBeEmpty (720791) | about 9 years ago | (#12206764)

...I am fairly certain that the only way to get this done is by causing the IDE hard drive to fall from a metal catwalk into liquid metal. I tried using liquid nitrogen and a hammer once but when I woke up in the morning the hard drive was reconstituted back inside my box and all the data was intact.

I am pretty sure that SATA drives need a priest, holy water, a crucifix, and a copy of the Roman rituals.

And I just use a shotgun (or chainsaw) on my CD-RW's because the only way to stop them is by "removing the head, or destroying the brain."

sandblaster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206668)

open the drive, thoroughly sandblast all the platters on both sides, and you're done.

Complete destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206672)

Well, whenever I need to completely destroy a hard drive, I just have Reza Lockwood sit on it, when she gets that fat ass off of it there's basically nothing left but quarks

Drive Duplicator... (5, Informative)

hated (54222) | about 9 years ago | (#12206674)

http://www.driveduplicators.com/124.html

Its primarily a hard drive duplicator but it also has DoD 5220.22-M level wipe. Sorry to plug a specific product :)

I have.. (2, Funny)

Heem (448667) | about 9 years ago | (#12206678)

I have such a machine. I call it "Sledge Hammer"

also a great stress relief tool, ala "Office Space"

Slag it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206679)

No way anyone is getting data off this sucker: slag it! [eecue.com]

The Only way to be sure... (1)

hubang (692671) | about 9 years ago | (#12206684)

Fire.

With all the advances in data recovery, and the cheap cost of EIDE drives, it's the most effective solution.

Gnu coreutils provides `shred' (2, Informative)

wild_berry (448019) | about 9 years ago | (#12206691)

You must have seen Shred mentioned in the previous discussion. It's GNU coreutils so comes as standard with most Linux (ahem: GNU/Linux) distributions, and deals with file references in your filesystem.

Shred is not complicated enough to waste files that has been stored on a journaled filesystem, which includes NTFS, ext3, ReiserFS and friends. This doesn't stand in the way of you plugging in a device, for example by USB/Firewire enoclosure), having it automount, according to your distribution's setup, before running "shred -z /dev/blah" to the device. The man pages say that this will write random data 25 times across the device before zeroing it, making a mess of the filesystem and the files too, whether or not they're stored with journaling data.

Easiest solutions (1)

nxtr (813179) | about 9 years ago | (#12206694)

Do a couple of formats/reformats with various filesystems. Write lots of data to the disk and then delete it. When you send the disk back, make sure it has a filesystem different from what it had before. And make sure it's an encrypted file system.

If all else fails, just overclock your PCI bus enough so that your system boots but your hard drive controller writes crap to its hard drives.

hardware solution, no computer required (1)

v1 (525388) | about 9 years ago | (#12206700)

Go to http://www.granitedigital.com/catalog/pg28_firewir eidesmartlcdbridge.htm and pick up one of their FireView firewire bridge boards, with display. This is a conventional IDE-to-firewire board, but has a diagnostic system on board, with a two line alphanumeric display and two menu buttons. With this, you can tell the hard drive to do a low level reformat, without even hooking it up to a PC. All you need is a regular USB or firewire external hard drive case and replace its regular bridge board with a FireView.

The FireView also does a lot of other nice things, like checking SMART status, displaying SMART error logs, enabling or disabling SMART, telling you thruput, status of both firewire ports and the computers you've plugged them into, etc. It can also invoke the short and thorough self-tests in the hard drive's firmware to check for problems.

It's also got a short reformat that just blasts the partition map, useful for those HDs that have a hopelessly confused partition table that hangs any machine you boot them up in.

Is the drive dead or not? (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | about 9 years ago | (#12206708)

Is the drive dead or not?

Seems to me the drive is either working or it isn't.

If it's not working, software erasure isn't going to work. If it is working, it's not broken.

Just my $0.02

Michael

Announcing.... (1)

nilbog (732352) | about 9 years ago | (#12206716)

The Slashdot search engine! Just type in your search query with as much detail as possible and have a thousand slashdot monkies find the answer!

This is what you're after... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206718)

Plug it in.
Insert drive.
Done!

http://www.experteraser.com/degausser

just smash the platters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206721)

the only method that I am comfortable with is to smash the platters after using a military grade format (there are a bunch of linux utilities out there for this).

format the hds, then you pop the lid, take a screwdriver, and lever the screwdriver such that the platter smashes

there is no such thing as truly deleted information off of hd's unless melted, smashing them to a fine dust gets the same result as the platers are brittle and shatter into incredibly tiny fragments.

note: it helps to have a cloth material to cover your hands/plate and make sure the shards don't fly all over the place.

for me the primary motivator is being able to sleep at night knowing just how much effort someone would haveto go through to actually reassemble the data of a military grade format and a shattered platter to actually get anything usefull out of them.

conversely, just as a heads up, there are tools out there that let investigators retrieve data out of the spaces 'between' the actual bits. because of certain magnetic properties, some data actually gets stored inbetween the bits and can be read and used to 'reconstruct' data if someone has access to that really expensive tool. on the other hand, with a shattered platter, good luck.

If it's that important, destroy the drive (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about 9 years ago | (#12206725)

I think HIPPA requirements are met by the electronic equivalent of a cross-cut shredder, destruction beyond all possible recovery is not required. A multi-pass overwrite is probably enough. Almost all bootable Linux CDs have the basic tools to do this, but you may find it handy to write a shell script to automate the process. Some may even have e-z shredders right there in the KDE or Gnome menus. Get a distro that reads USB drives and an external USB/IDE box and you are in business.

Another possiblity is to use Bart's PE Builder [nu2.nu] and one of many MS-Windows-based shredders to make a bootable MS-Windows XP CD that does the same thing.

If overwriting the data one or more times does NOT meet legal requirements, then you should overwrite the data once as a precaution in case someone steals the drive before you can permanently erase it, disassemble the drive, drill holes in the platters, then heat the platters, including the drilled-out parts, long enough to completely degauss them. A fireplace should do the trick, but an autoclave or better yet a pottery or cement kiln would do a better job. A kiln might actually melt the platters, which is pretty much the ultimate in data destruction.

An embedded PC-driven entropy rewriter/degausser (3, Interesting)

ikewillis (586793) | about 9 years ago | (#12206736)

...is my recommended approach. I actually built one of these myself, powered by an embedded Linux PC that boots from CD-ROM. It uses modular exponentation to generate a cryptographically random sector distribution list, to which it writes entropy data generated from an onboard Random Event Generator. It repeats this process 10 times consecutively, then cuts power to the drive and degausses the entire disk. This process is extensive enough to ensure that even the world's most sophisticated data recovery experts will recovery nary a bit from such a drive, and I've automated it to a plug and play process. Simply insert the drive into the degaussing chamber and attach data and power cables, then throw the switch. Wait about an hour or so, and the drive comes out irrevocably blank.

One word: Thermite (2, Interesting)

jamesshuang (598784) | about 9 years ago | (#12206739)

Drop a nice little mixture of aluminum and iron oxide on the drive, ignite it. Nothing will retrieve that data, not even electron microscopy.

curie point (2, Informative)

dfuller (304852) | about 9 years ago | (#12206761)


There is no substitute for heat.

Cook the drive past the Curie Point with a
blowtorch. You'd be amazed what folks can recover
from drives even if they've been "destroyed."

use the shotgun method. (2, Funny)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | about 9 years ago | (#12206763)

load it into a skeet shoot device, launch it, and shoot it with a shotgun. repeat until its blown up good.

Detail please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206776)

RMA is,

Return Material Authorization
or
Return Merchandise on Account
or
Return to Manufacturer Authorization
or
Returned Merchandise Authorization

What did you sign and what are the exact terms?

Then it's a question of getting a HDM (Home Depot Method) that fits those terms.

A serious secure deletion process is to hold the platter with vice grips and dress the surface down on a stationary sander. The drive is junk, but the cost of the drive is very small compared to your data risk if you're serious about this. Anything but destruction can be compromised.

But if it's a dead drive.. (1)

cbreaker (561297) | about 9 years ago | (#12206777)

How would you use anything to destroy the data through the bus on a dead drive - the reason you're replacing it in the first place?

Boot and Nuke (1)

UnseenEnigma (743397) | about 9 years ago | (#12206779)

Its a cd based linux distribution that will 0 fill a drive very easily. Great tool. First thing I had to do at my job was clear 25 old drives for recycling (aka donating to employees). Using 3 computers I cleared all the drives in less than a day

Wiping Drives..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206782)

I use Killdisk for single PC's, it has several different wiping methods, and also lets you make a bootable floppy which has SCSI drivers on it. For server drives(Ultra 2,3,Ultra 160 and 320) I find it worth the time to setup a server to an array( 4214, PowerVault,etc..)and set up one logical drive and wipe that. Sdelete also makes an excellent program, but it does not boot the machine, so an OS is required, which makes it less usefull. I resell all of my drives( well, the ones that are working) and using a degausser is not possible.

Try This (1)

WankerWeasel (875277) | about 9 years ago | (#12206785)

Check out http://blackbagtech.com/hardware.html The FBI will soon be carrying them at all times when they wanna copy your stuff (seriously). This will do shredding too but no SCSI http://diskology.com/

You have been trolled. (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 9 years ago | (#12206787)

Seriously. If you're RMAing a drive because it's dead, there ain't no magic appliance that's going to bring it back to life long enough to erase (read "overwrite", because that's what really happens) the data.

And no external magnet is going to erase it either. Well, not short of the kind of magnets they use for MRI scans.

If you just want to make sure the drive is unreadable before disposing of it, use a drill press.

bad blocks are remapped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206790)

Don't forget that the drive controller may have remapped some bad blocks, which could be read back out. You might find just overwriting the 'whole drive' doesn't overwrite these.

Also, if you are RMA'ing it, its probably bad, so nothng will properly write to it.

I would suggest that you need to destroy the media.

if they are scsi drives, you may find you can write a command to them directly with e.g. freebsd's cam to cause them to do a selftest which writes all the media including the bad blocks.

ObKarmaWhoring (1)

bani (467531) | about 9 years ago | (#12206791)

I use an external firewire enclosure and wipe [sourceforge.net] to nuke drives that I ebay.

There's a self-booting CD diskzapper [diskzapper.com] that looks like it ought to do the trick, though I have not used it.

Other posters mentioned Darik's Boot and Nuke [sourceforge.net] as a floppy-boot solution.

The ultimate boot cd [ultimatebootcd.com] has a number of different disk wipers on it -- and a ton of other useful utilities on it. No self respecting geek should be without a copy.

The Recovery Is Possible [tux.org] bootable CD has a copy of wipe [sourceforge.net] on it.

I wouldn't be suprised if Knoppix-STD [knoppix-std.org] had some erasing tool on it too, though I haven't checked.

Anyone know of a bootable image suitable for USB flash sticks?

Solution for dead drives to be RMA'd (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 9 years ago | (#12206797)

If you are a "big" shop, have an agreement with your vendor that says "some percentage of our drives are used with sensitive data, and when we return dead ones they will be returned in pieces, without the platters. If they are under warranty you will replace them no questions asked." Expect to pay a premium for this privilage.

Degaussing alternative (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 9 years ago | (#12206799)

Attacking the magnetic media is surprisingly hard. Doable, as other posters have said, but hard.

Let's stipulate that my solution to the literal question is let the pros do it [experteraser.com] (which also addresses the liability issues).

So I have another question. Heat is hard on magnetism. What if we hit the drive with an oxy-acetylene torch? Would you have to melt it (expensive), or would the hard drive stop being recoverably with an electron microscope long before then?

I'd prefer this be answered by someone with experience in the relevant materials science; I can pull an answer out of my ass, too.

If it's that important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206804)

Then have your client add the cost of new drives to their IT budget and destroy the bad ones really good with a sledge hammer.
It's the way I do it. So much easier, yet somehow fulfilling, and you still make money.

CSC repair device does it (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | about 9 years ago | (#12206808)

Here: http://www.softwareandstuff.com/TOL10248.html

Anyways, it can repair as well as delete.

Try a Microwave (1)

Aurelfell (520560) | about 9 years ago | (#12206809)

A minute or two on high will delete any magnetic media quite effectively. Works fairly well on CD's too.

May not be the best thing for the microwave though.

Magnet and shiny bits collection! (1)

peter1 (796360) | about 9 years ago | (#12206829)

I did a contract at a local hospital a while back, during the upgrade of most of their desktops. Since the old systems were PII/350's, they were just disposed of, but because of HIPAA we had to pull the drives out. In order to safely destroy them, we would take the drives apart and pull all the magnets out, bend the platters and then dispose of them. Got a great collection of some really strong magnets out of it!

pee on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12206833)

I am a top secret agent for the CIA. when we need to destroy a drive, I just pee on it. The amonia in the urine destroys all of the data.
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