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How to Say Goodbye to Old Hard Drives?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the get-creative dept.

Hardware 337

An anonymous reader writes "I'm wondering if anyone else out there has a stack of old hard drives sitting around and doesn't know what to do with them. I always remove the hard drives of my parents' and friends' computers before they recycle them or get a new computer, so now I've got a whole bunch sitting around. One, I'd like to dispose of them and know that whatever data was there is gone, but before that, I'd like to hook them up, one by one, and scan them to make sure there's nothing vital there worth saving. Some are years old and may be totally dead for all I know, but is there a good system for hooking up a hard drive as an additional device, perhaps via USB? And what's a pretty good way to ensure that someone else won't pull them out later on and find usable data?" Well to start with you could always use your hard drives to make electricity or create a decorative wind chime. There are also many different options to ensure that your data doesn't fall into the hands of the enemy. What other suggestions can folks come up with?

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Easy... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22010678)

Hire one of those disillusioned young IT workers!

Re:Easy... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011446)

Cow magnet, sledge hammer and crowbar. Apply liberally to hard drive.
Note: use the hammer to get leverage for the bar to get the metal casing off, apply magnet when platters are visible.

Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (5, Funny)

Indy1 (99447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010680)

At work, its well known that all past warranty dead drives go to me, as well as ones that work but are too slow and small to be useful. And I make sure the drive in question is definitely wiped :)

For the curious, it usually takes a hot 357 magnum to penetrate and clear most modern drives. 9mm and 45acp either bounce off, or don't exit the drive.

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22010756)

Agreed! Shooting is the best way to finalize any hardware replacement. If you think hard drives are fun, try hanging a keyboard and typing with the bullets. For the record, most types of rifles will have no problem fully penetrating the drive either. My personal favorite is the AR-15. []

Drill it, sink it, forget it. (4, Insightful)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010772)

A drill bit is cheaper and easier. It also avoids those awkward ricochets and overshoots that put holes in people. This makes it difficult for all but the most determined people to read.

Dropping it in salt water is a sure way to destroy the data but this takes longer.

As for buried date treasure, don't bother. If you did not find it when you put the drive down and have not missed it, you don't need it.

holes (5, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011014)

put holes in people. This makes it difficult for all but the most determined people to read.
Yes, putting holes in people makes it difficult for them to read, if your aim is good, but I think the poster wanted a way to make the hard drive unreadable by anyone, not just by the people it was convenient to put holes in.

screw driver - they do have screws in the case (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011340)

just unscrew the case - you'll be looking right at the drive platters. If you're lazy, you'll just take the screw driver and stab/bend/scrape the platters which will make them unreadable. The platters are easy to turn. Who do you know, has the technology to read a disk with a giant gouge/crack in it - the FBI? - Why would they read my hard drive?

You could also BBQ them
throw them in a pond
bury them

But to be honest - most peoplewould not even spen the effort to do anything with them if you threw it out in the trash with some stinky chicken carcass and rotten milk. - Would you? People recover, or try to recover stuff from hard drives from companies, because there might be useful info on them. How much useful info can you get from some schmuck down the street, and would it be useful/worth your time? - Probably not.

Re:Drill it, sink it, forget it. (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011110)

As to the cheaper point, if you already have a firearm, bullets are very cheap, and shooting is pretty satisfying.

As to the second, while I've never shot a hard drive and can't attest to ricochets, the four basic rules of shooting include knowing what's behind your target. I'd like to think anyone reading /. would be smart enough not to handle firearms without caution. (Though if the racists ACs blow a toe off, that works, too.)

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (4, Interesting)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010774)

I take a different approach.. I'm the resident hard drive collector as well, except I take them apart and extract the magnets. The older they are the better, drives from the late 90's seem to have the best ones. Modern desktop drives have pussy magnets. :( Seagate 73 gig fiber channel disks have the best magnets I've ever pulled.

Of course, the hard part is doing something productive with them. They're really not good for much, except for marveling how cool magnetism is. Eddy currents are a good crowd pleaser.. made a pendulum type device with a led wired up to a coil, as it swung past a magnet the led would flicker.

Also, this: []

Know a guy who would make such projects and donate them to schools as educational toys.. schools are always glad for stuff like that.

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (5, Informative)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011294)

The magnets are excellent for opening rental and library DVD cases...

like this []

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (4, Funny)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011312)

Modern desktop drives have pussy magnets

They stuff golden retriever puppies inside hard drives???

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (1)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011394)

Sadly, due to the Asian juggernaut economy, no puppy has been safe since the mid 80's.
Disclaimer: Sorry Jesus and Asians.

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (4, Interesting)

arminw (717974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011376)

....Of course, the hard part is doing something productive with them...

I take the magnets out and use the best ones on our refrigerator. I give the rest to friends for that purpose.

Before doing this I connect them to a drive dock, specifically this one: []

I look at any files worth keeping and copy these to another modern HD. Since HD space is cheap these days, I have several complete DOS drive images on file. After that I let the computer do a multi-pass full data scramble erasure. This can take quite a while on big drives.

After the magnets are extracted, the left over pieces go to a metal recycler. The cases are usually made from many beer cans worth of aluminum.

Wimpy little bullets (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011172)

For the curious, it usually takes a hot 357 magnum to penetrate and clear most modern drives. 9mm and 45acp either bounce off, or don't exit the drive.

That's why I prefer a 12 gauge slug at fairly close range. The impact can be best described as "glorious". Wear eye protection, I like to use a full face dirtbike helmet since bits of metal go everywhere.

BTW, the slugs do wonders on an old washing machine too :-)

New and Modern - GRIND EM (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011176)

Salt Water (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011272)

Drill through the drill with a large drills 1cm or 1/2 inch or better

At least one hole through the disks, and one hole through the circuit board.

Then put it inside a bucket filled with salt water for a month or so

That should freeze the bearings and corrode the plates enough to make recovery a royal pain.

of course, if you want disassemble and retrieve the magnets first, that's cool. You can then pull the plates, and then bend/twist them into ashtrays.

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011336)

guns are pretty effective but have you ever tried thermite? 3,000 degrees of molten hot metal cures any data security problems as well as putting on quite a show at the same time :)

Re:Do it the old fashioned way - shoot em! (1)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011488)

This is one of the more fun ways and upon reading it I intended to post a similar topic (dang you, getting ahead of me!!!!) - though it is easier with rifles. Too many handgun cartridges are too weak to really do the damage. Just make sure you use a large enough caliber, while a 223 will penetrate all the way through it pretty much makes .223 inch hole in the thing - not so much what you are looking for. Pick a large rifle caliber, pick one of the modern bonded bullets (they retain weight which translates into penetration, expand well, and start off with a nice large diameter). This is an effective *and* fun way of doing it. I usually also try and stack the platters up - it is interesting to see how different bullets penetrate vs their damage. Other wise they mostly go into a vise and have a hammer have at them. Than usually a grinder or other tool that normally destroys metal.

I've never really understood why these questions come up. If you *really* have sensitive data then the price of reselling the device is irrelevant (especially given the market for used hard drives) - destroy the thing. There are MANY easy ways to ensure the platter is no longer in a single piece and the gaps are not recoverable, some fun some not so fun. In any case reducing a thin aluminum platter to scrap metal isn't very hard and doesn't really require a post to slashdot.

However, discussing "fun" methods is quite entertaining - I'm sure some amount of chemical reactions could also be entertaining though I have never tried them (mainly due to not having a good access to said chemicals). This is WELL worth the time spent even if it is just destroying a platters worth of crap - if it is fun destroying the platter the data stored is mostly irrelevant.

Darik's Boot and Nuke (5, Informative)

Mike_ya (911105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010688) []

To 'clean' the drives.

Sledgehammer works good too.
We always take them apart. The magnets are fun to play with.

Grinder (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010738)

The problem with DBAN is that the drive has to be functional. Great for when you're selling hardware, but not so great when you're trying to destroy data on an otherwise worthless drive.

Sledgehammers are fun, but I prefer taking a grinder to the platters.

Re:Darik's Boot and Nuke (3, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011188)

There is a low level drive utility, []

which erases on the ATA command level. To my knowledge, this will zap data that DBAN misses, because DBAN can't access the hard disk's sector relocation tables (sectors that were about to go bad, so were remapped), and this low level utility is able to.

DBAN plus this utility should be OK for most things, however as always if the drive had relatively sensitive data on it, don't give it away, and destroy it physically (lots of creative methods. For drives I want to be sure that are decommissioned, I personally pull the platters apart, run over them with a vehicle, then chuck each platter in a separate garbage bin.)

Re:Darik's Boot and Nuke (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011286)

You should make sure the garbage bins are in a separate countries too. One of the countries should then be destoyed with thermonuclear warheads.

The real question is... (5, Funny)

Deimos24601 (904979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010696)

Will it blend?

Re:The real question is... (1)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011058)

Yes! []

But if you really want to be sure, given the threats posed by identity thieves and h^Hcrackers, there is only one way to go [] .

Re:The real question is... (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011148)

The hard drive survived.

Re:The real question is... (2, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011242)

> The hard drive survived.

But afterwards it would only play Yanni and Streisand...

Easy... (2, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010700)

...but is there a good system for hooking up a hard drive as an additional device, perhaps via USB?

Yes. Go buy yourself a harddrive enclosure that has a USB interface.

And what's a pretty good way to ensure that someone else won't pull them out later on and find usable data?

Smash the things into itty-bitty pieces. Very (very very) strong magnets work well too.

Re:Easy... (5, Informative)

phil reed (626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010822)

This [] is a handy thing for temporarily hooking an IDE or SATA drive up to a USB port for a quick salvage job. (I'm just a satisfied customer.)

As far as disposal: open up the drives, take out the platters and use them for decorations or melt them, salvage the armature magnets for your refrigerator, recycle the metal.

Re:Easy... (2, Informative)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011084)

Good stuff. I routinely use a similar adapter for data recovery on failing drives. The concept seems to work just fine.

The same Vantec unit is also available from Newegg, but far cheaper. []

Or, if one is feeling adventurous and/or wants lots of these adapters without going going broke, there's always Ebay [] , via which I've always had fantastic good luck ordering insanely inexpensive electronics like this directly from Hong Kong.

So far, importing things from Hong Kong only takes about as long to get here (Ohio) as stuff does from California, and it's cheaper than UPS.

Platters are Fun! (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011414)

Back in highschool, my girlfriend and I used to have a ball making various crafts out of hard drive platters. I think she still has the large wall art "thing" (not sure what else to call it) we made. If nothing else, they make great objects to throw discus-style at the endless numbers of people trying to hit on your hot geeky girlfriend. (They learn will quick after a platter or two to the forehead.)

If you want to ensure no data will ever come off of the platters, blowtorches work wonders.

Re:Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011420)

Point one: Hard disk platters are precision-machined discs of aluminum (or whatever). Point two: They resonate really well. Point three: Few hard drive platters among multiple models or manufacturers are exactly alike. Point four: Due to points two and three, collecting platters from multiple drives yields multiple resonant frequencies from the platters. Result: Make wind chimes. I have four sets.

Quick and easy (1)

qengho (54305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010704)

Get yourself one of these. []

but of course. (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010710)

friendship hard disk platters.

nothing says "i love you" like a separated platter put on a necklace. nothing says "bling" like it, either, for that matter.

Try this: (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010716)

Neat little device []

Re:Try this: (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011250)

This one is cheaper and more flexible.
In my experience, it is a good idea to get a big 120mm fan and plug it into the same power-supply to keep the disk cool while you use it. []

Secure disk erase, give it to the kids for fun (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010720)

My kids love the magnets inside, and the copper-goldish platters are cool too.

far too dangerous for kids (4, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011140)

Glass platters look just like aluminum ones. It's hard to tell the difference until they break. When they do break, zillions of ultra-sharp slivers of glass go flying everywhere. It's way worse than breaking typical glass.

external usb drive enclosures (4, Informative)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010728)

These things are great: []

they work, they're simple, when closed they're virtually indestructible, when open, you can swap drives in seconds, hot-swapped and everything. IDE and SATA. I've used multiple brands, they're all the same. Some have a power switch if you care.

Re:external usb drive enclosures (1)

jb1z (1099055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010902)

And then you can take those drives and plug them into a machine running Windows Home Server and have yourself a nice, redundant storage solution. I currently have 5 external drives plugged into mine.

Actually (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011094)

If you don't want to bother with the whole enclosure, ngear makes a thing that is more of a quick tool. [] .

As you can see here: [] It just plugs into the back of a 2.5 or 3.5 ATA hard drive, and gives you USB. Also comes with a molex connectorized power supply. I've found it handy in my computer testing.

The timing of this is uncanny ... (1)

triclipse (702209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011456)

My wife recently took my home machine to Staples (without asking me, of course) in order to have it "fixed" so the brand new printer she bought (again, without asking me) would work. I don't know WTF they did, but all the data which had been saved under "my" XP user account is now inaccessible.

So ... I just bought a 500GB HD with an external USB case and tried to copy the entire drive over to the new external drive. But it keeps giving me "Access Denied" errors for certain otherwise innocuous files no good reason.

Question - is there any Windoze program out there that can override XP permissions and/or make for smoother, better drive copying with more control?

Thanks for any help.

Easy (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010744)

Get an external USB enclosure, hook up the drive and connect it to a PC, get a Live CD of some sort, write over the drive with alternations from /dev/null and /dev/urandom a couple of times, and you're done. Rinse, rather, repeat for other drives.

A handy USB device (3, Informative)

petard (117521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010750)

If the drives are IDE/ATA/SATA, this [] works well and is a better idea than rotating them through an enclosure. (I find that the captive cables in USB drive enclosures are not very robust. This does not share that problem.)

Take it apart... (1)

demopolis (872666) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010764)

...and pull out the magnets. They are incredibly strong and who doesn't like playing with magnets?

Re:Take it apart... (1)

Ticklemonster (736987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011332)

The platters reflect light like crazy. Save up a bunch and send them to Mythbusters, and tell them to make a parabolic mirror death ray out of them and burn a boat or something. And make sure you tell them the Ticklemonster sent you. :)

Oh, and if you are a first time destructor type, be careful playing with the magnets. They will pinch the ever loving day lights out of your finger tips. I like to take them and build little magnet sculptures with them, though I am sure they are great for degaussing little bitty monitors, too.

Know your best friend (s) (3, Funny)

sphix42 (144155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010766)

Rip them open, pull the platters out one by one, and make a high definition mirror, knowing every time you look at yourself you're doing it on several levels.

Plenty of IDE-USB convertors around (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010776)

Personally I just use a straight IDE-to-USB 2.0 cable. It seems so wrong having a hard drive out in the open while it's running - it's probably not good for the drive in the longterm vibration-wise, but if you're just doing this to check the drives out before you dump them that's no big deal.

You could get an external drive caddy but if you've got a lot of drives to go through then it's probably not worth the hassle of having to switch them in and out.

Why not buy a big drive? (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010780)

If you're really worried about losing some data that might be needed, why not just buy a 500GB drive for $100 and copy everything from all the drives to it? I seriously doubt that even with a large stack that you really have more than a few tens of gigs of data, given that most of those drives are probably only a few gigs in size anyway. It would also be a lot quicker just to copy everything than to sit and go through the files on each drive to determine what needs saving. A cheaper alternative might be to just burn the drives to DVDs, I bet a lot of them aren't even 4.7GB in size and would fit on a single disk.

Recycle (1)

killerkalamari (528180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010790)

If the drives are broken, take the platters out and sell them to a local scrap place. They are aluminum. Sometimes the cases are aluminum too.

some platters are glass (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011118)

The IBM Deathstar platters, I suppose rebranded to Hitachi now, are glass.

Turbine (2, Interesting)

VanderJagt (833197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010794)

Plenty of people have fooled around with hard drive platters as bladeless Tesla turbines...though the new base materials shatter more easily than the old.

-Benjamin Vander Jagt

Toxic dust (1)

Sam Fet (1217852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010796)

Well, I'm not sure what all the materials are in a modern hard disc. I'd imagine that it's a non-ferromagnetic structural disc and then a bunch of thin films of various materials. And I bet there are a bunch of materials that aren't so good for you. I guess it's a matter of hard hard it is to scratch or wipe them off. Maybe I'm just paranoid...but when I opened a recent one, I was careful to wash my hands afterwards.
I guess my point is that it's important to keep materials in mind when taking apart electronics.

Re:Toxic dust (1)

Vskye (9079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011068)

I guess my point is that it's important to keep materials in mind when taking apart electronics.
Now ya tell me!! My god, I'm glowing green!!!!!!!!!! :)

Metal Roses (1)

ODiV (51631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010814)

You can make metal roses [] out of the platters.

Having a hard time finding a howto though.

One thing that comes to mind... (2, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010832)

...go fishing for blackmail material. You'll find that Christmas 2008 will be much better for you than Christmas 2007.

USB Drive connectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22010854)

I have a handy tool I found at a local computer store. It is a SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 adapter.

Here is one from TigerDirect: []

This operates just like plugging in a memory stick. Great for parsing through old drives for data quickly. :)

Turn the magnets into clip-on earings... (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010858)

Not funny!

Enemy? (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010866)

How paranoid must one really be?

Hit the drives hard with a decent size hammer, a couple of times on each side, just so that anyone can plainly see that the drives are toast and totally useless as computer parts.

After the smashing, just toss 'em in a bucket. When the bucket fills up, take it down to your friendly neighborhood scrap yard. If you're lucky, they'll pay a "dirty aluminum" rate for it. If you're unlucky, they'll pay a miscellaneous scrap rate, which will be considerably lower (around a nickel per pound, here).

Or if you're really adventurous/thrifty, you can break them down into their different constituent metals (keep it simple and just sort into piles of aluminum, zinc, magnetic steel, and nonmagnetic stainless), which will maximize the amount of cash you'll be paid.

Honestly: Nobody wants to invest the time, effort, money, and energy into trying to scavenge data from a physically broken hard drive at the bottom of a scrap hopper without knowing, in advance, what is contained therein.

But if you're really paranoid, you can always yank the platters and melt them into little aluminum ingots first. It just doesn't seem worth the effort for household data . . .

In any event, you can be sure that the drives will, at some point, be recycled into something new.

Re:Enemy? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011422)

That's almost what we used to do at work, except I hit them with a block splitter [1] and dropped the waste in the steel bin. Using the splitter made sure that there were big breaks in the platters and didn't kick back like an ax would. The workshop crew wanted to try a 9 inch angle grinder but I don't think they ever did.

[1] Like an ax, but with a smaller wider head and a straight handle. Good for splitting blocks of firewood.

The question is... (3, Funny)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010868)

Will it blend?

A: I would imagine so.

What a coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22010874)

I'm trying to access an ancient Quantum Prodrive 85 megger. I completely forgot what all the LBA/large C/H/S stuff was all about. Can't get the computer to access the drive. Oh well, off to bed and google tomorrow.

Canadian DND procedure (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010882)

When I worked for the Canadian military for a summer, the procedure we had was to open 'em up, pull out the platters, and gouge the crap out of them with a screw driver.

Sometimes low-tech just works.

Quick erase -- drill press! (1)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010892)

A 1/8 inch high-speed drill bit in the drill press does wonders. Punch through the top cover, platters, base, circuit board. Repeat in a second location if desired. Quick and effective, particularly on glass platters (and the sticker on the drive says "rattling noise is normal").

PCBS (1)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010910)

If the PCBs are still good take them out and sell them to people with the same model drive who need a new PCB for old drive to get important data off.

sledgehammer (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010918)

Take a big hammer to them. The drive magnets you get out of them are kind of fun to play with.

1-800-4SAURON (1)

Geste (527302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010936)

1-800-4SAURON Very affordable rates. 100% guarantee. J

Melt Them (1)

AlexCorn (763954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010944)

Build a homemade blast furnace [] in your back yard. Use coal as fuel and a leaf blower as a bellows. Hard drives are mostly aluminum, which melts at the relatively low temperature of about 1200 Fahrenheit.

One time I put a hard drive in, and the rest of the evening I would randomly get brilliant purple sparks out of the furnace. Maybe the metals in the magnets?

Re:Melt Them (2, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011400)

There were some other posts regarding hazardous materials in electronics products. They are correct.

A furnace is going to vaporize and volatilize a lot of really nasty stuff. Burning the drives pollutes big time. If you aren't set up to scrub the exhaust, you are dumping who knows what into your back yard and your neighbor's yards. Plus, if you are breathing any of it, you are setting yourself up for any number of nasty lung diseases, possibly cancers, etc.

Sldge-O-Matic the Data Mutilator! (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010966)

My co-worker has a sledge hammer at home for just such a purpose.

Drill, Hammer and Punch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22010984)

I just disposed of a stack of 20 HDs from my company's retired machines. 3/4" drill through the case, plant a solid punch (an awl would probably work too) against the platter, then give it a couple of whacks with the mallet. Direct, physical damage to the platter is a must. Don't listen to these pikers who only hit the outside of the casing.

Old yeller (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22010986)

I'm of the opinion that the best option is physical destruction. So...
Take your drives down to the local rifle range. Arrange as desired, and work on your marksmanship.
Once done, clean up the junk and dispose of properly.

Shred it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011018)

I was told our local shredder truck will toss drives in the shredder just like the paper. Not sure what the cost is, but if you have 10 or more drives, it is highly unlikely someone will take the time to piece the platters back together enough to read any data off of them.

While shooting them is fun. Remember shooting a hard object risks the round returning to the firing line or being deflected somewhere other than the backstop. Please use proper gun saftey and not cause another person to claim we all should not own guns.

Fire and brute force (3, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011072)

All electronics that fail me suffer the same fate.

Smash, apply ethanol, burn, smash, apply ethanol, burn ... until its no longer fun to do either one.

Re:Fire and brute force (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011256)

...until its no longer fun to do either one.

So you're still at it I assume? I know I would be........... What? Why does everyone keep looking at me like I'm crazy?

Stepper motors! (1)

eigentwistor (1217720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011078)

Make a robotic fox with nine tails out of the old stepper motors. Use the platters as frisbees/coasters/shims/armor/handmirrors/windchimes and the samarium cobalt magnets to stick photos on your refrigerator.

Wipe and donate, please (4, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011080)

I used to work at a nonprofit agency that took (among other things) computers that were then handed out to community centers, senior centers, churches, etc. People were always donating computers sans hard drives because they didn't want anyone to steal their info. So the warehouse had literally hundreds of unusable computers. PLEASE use the commercial or free open source package of your choice to wipe the thing then donate it! Nonprofits that deal in second hand computers are in dire need of spare hard drives of even modest capacity. And no, the lady who wants to print up the church newsletter is not some 133t h4x0r who is going to recover the wiped data and steal your identity.

Good magnets in there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011086)

I haven't really found a use for them but the magnets inside hard drives are some of the most powerful I have ever come across. I mean seriously "will cause bodily harm if it clamps on your skin" type power. I have a whole stack of them and together it's just ridiculous.

Keep the magnets (1)

ThomasHoward (925022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011102)

The magnets are insanely strong, they are well worth keeping, you will need torx screwdrivers to open the hard drives though, but they are not expensive to buy.

I find the platters seem to be made out of aluminium, and will melt and turn to dust in a fire. Nobody is ever recovering anything from that.

destruction (1)

hucke (55628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011104)

A while back, I disposed of some drives - mostly unreadable - that might have once contained confidential information (they came from an employer who did a lot of credit card transactions).

step 1: slam against concrete floor repeatedly, until hearing bits shake about inside.
step 2: with the claw-end of a hammer, smash the exposed circuit boards.
step 3: submerge drives in a bucket of salt water for a month.
step 4: put drives in Hefty bag and cover with cat litter and cat shit (a psychological barrier to deter exploration of the bag's contents).
step 5: city dumpster.

Probably overkill - but it was fun.

Aggregate (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011186)

I mean "aggregate" as a noun, not a verb. A couple of years ago I was building a two foot high concrete border wall around my patio. After pouring about half of the concrete, I threw in a bunch of old hard disks and other computer parts, and then topped it off with the remaining concrete. Flagstone went on top, and the finished border looks quite stylish. No one ever suspects that there are computer parts buried inside. :)

Identical drive surgery (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011192)

you can always practice your data recovery skills using a torx screwdriver, and some very careful hands. I'm in the process of swapping platters between some identical drives just for the hell of it.

Outside of that umm.....there are always some really fun magnets to be pulled from old drives.

NexStar HDD Enclosure (1)

Symbolis (1157151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011202)

Sitting upon my desk, containing a 250GB hard drive, is a nice(IMO) NexStar 3 enclosure.

Connect it to the computer via USB2.0. Connect the drive(no need to actually place it in the enclosure) and you're good to go.

Here's [] the one I have(first result, as of this writing).

well, at work (1)

westcoast philly (991705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011322)

I'm one of those young, dissilusioned techies... We support provincial government computers. for disposal, we have a drill. Just can't beat low-tech.

We preocess drives by the hundreds.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011330)

I suppose you can use some USB to IDE something-or-other. I'm old-school. Personally I'd hook up a spare machine, pull any hard disks out of it, and hook each old disk up in turn on it. Hook the machine up to a LAN and copy files you want to keep over the network. At this point, you put a Ubuntu LiveCD in, boot that and use it to look through the files and copy off whatever you want to keep. Reboot, eject the LiveCD and pop in the dban CD -- this erases any disks in the computer.

          At my work, we use the 3-pass DOD wipe to follow regulations. Personally, I think the single pass with 0's is safe enough; that will stop someone from plugging the disk in and getting any info back. And, I think personally that with any modern disk (newer than the old MFM and RLL disks) the desnity and head-tracking quality is probably high enough that I doubt even removing the platters and analyzing them will reveal any previous data. But, 3-pass adds that extra safety (it is 0's, then random data, then a final 0's pass.)

          For reference, here is how we handle hundreds of disks a month...
          Where I work we process hard drives by the hundreds. The department I work at is quite cheap so we have built our infrastructure entirely on surplus equipment that comes through. We have:

8 x Gateway 4200. (These are very antiquated but the newer Optiplexes actually seem to wipe drives slower)

2 x Promise ATA66 controller per machine

          A modified dban CD is put into the CD-ROM on each machine. The other onboard IDE channel is unused; 4 ribbon cables are run out the side of each machine (hooked to the Promise cards), allowing 4 IDE hard disks to be hooked up to each machine without having to check master/slave jumpers or anything.

          Our dban CD is modified to go straight into a 3-pass DOD wipe of all hard disks (instead of the default, which stops to ask what wipe to use).. We use 3-pass due to regulations. For disks that fail to detect or fail during wipe, we have a recycler that physically destroys the disks with some sort of drill press.

          We also have a single IDE to 2.5" notebook IDE adapter to handle notebook disks; if the notebook runs we'll put the dban disk straight in it but most we get are utterly fucked.
          To handle non-IDE disks:
3 x IBM something-or-others. These are SCSI rack-mount servers. I don't recall the models. These are for SCSI drives in IBM-style drive sleds. 6 drives per machine.

2 x HP Netserver. I think 4 disks apiece? For SCSI drives in Netserver drive sleds.

1 x Optiplex GX270. Not hooked up yet, but this will be used for SATA drives.

          Again, a custom DBAN CD per machine.

          The fate of the disks: Some are sold individually. The rest are placed back into machines (mainly Dell Optiplexes). We have 7 stations where we can plug in VGA, keyboard, power and ethernet, and an automated Ubuntu 7.10 installer PXE boots over the ethernet. Put the hard disk into the machine, plug it in, go into the bios to check boot order and enable network boot, let 'er rip. Walk away (usually to work on more computers...) and the install is done in 20 minutes.

Wipe 'em with BCWipe (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011356)

I hook them into an old pc, wipe them with BCWipe [] , and then dispose of them. My preferred method is to put them in old machines, install Linux, and give them to Goodwill.

Simple, of course... (4, Funny)

Ren Hoak (1217024) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011368)

This is a personal problem. There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable use of high explosives. This is not one of those exceptions.

Say good by to old hard drives (1)

cbsimkins (1050934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011374)

I use cables etc. : Newer USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter. Plug in and then clone your hard drive or just copy parts. A little different than making a CD or DVD of the data but it also allows you to copy and save data from your second drive, yeah the one you use to hold all your critical data. Most of our sensitive data is not that large in volume, it is usually the programs that take up the space. Also it is videos and pictures that take up space. Label the drive and stick it away for that day when your primary HD crashes. CBS

Magnets and Hammers (1)

dekkerdreyer (1007957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011426)

I bought the #6 and #8 Torx bits required to take apart most hard drives. The magnets are wonderful, especially some of the 6-8 platter SCSI drive magnets. The platters get thrown in the street and beat with the pointy end of a claw hammer. There's probably someone in the world that could read the data after that, but they're busy doing something else I'm sure.

"They" say (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011436)

No one has ever demonstrably retrieved data from hard drive platters that have been zeroed out (to my knowledge--please correct me if I'm wrong--I know there have been theories suggesting it might be possible, but I've never heard of any means for actually doing so). None have recovered data from smashed platters without a lab in clean room conditions. Anyone with access to that is unlikely to be dumpster diving for old drives to see what might be recoverable just for kicks.

If the drive works and is modern enough to be connected to a current computer on hand, zero it out--a bootable disk/disc of *nix, g4u, BootItNg, or random hard drive utilities are all free-as-in-beerly available and do the trick quite easily. Otherwise, the sledgehammer is quite effective. Hell, use an axe and split some logs while you're at it.

Just don't try to resell a working drive without zeroing it out. I've heard rumors of ATM hard drives on ebay that got a quick format and still contained sensitive account information. dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/whatever [let simmer till the blinky lights stop] is your friend**.

**unless the drive is mounted. Or if you're following advice from an IRC channel. Or if there are midgets. Damn the midgets.

Nail it! (1)

EDinNY (262952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011448)

I drive a nail through the case and platter.

Evil Genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011468)

In the last book of the Evil Genuis series they describe how to take a dead HDD clunk bamb, rig it with a 555 timer and a few pieces and you have a clunk bamb. Stick it in your victims PC and after the predesigned time it'll start making that dreaded HDD-is-dying sounds. I haven't, but I intend to LOL.

Wind Chime (1)

Dashes (836528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011478)

I made an hdd platter wind chime...not exactly a good sound but it's pretty creapy in a storm o_0

Physical Storage as opposed to Data Storage (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011480)

Gut the hard drive but take care to make sure the outside looks fairly untampered. If there were multiple platters you can end up with a lot of internal space where the drive used to be. Then put stuff into the gutted harddrive that you want to keep secret. Screw top back on, and for best results, stick in extra computer. The best part is, not only is the harddrive and unsuspecting location, but on top of that even if someone did suspect something they can't just open it because opening a harddrive is destruction of property and if they are wrong, then they would get in trouble. The only catch is, I'm not sure what kind of chemicals might be inside the drive. However I've done this before. Yes I know this isn't necessarily a direct answer to the question, but it definitely makes it harder to recover data when the platters are all warped and scratched from being ripped out, and it doesn't waste as much.

What we use old HDs for... (1)

Pathway (2111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011482)

Bathroom Mirror. I kid you not.


Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011486)

I always open them up, and remove the magnets because magnets are fun. Those are some pretty strong magnets too.
Then, I take out the platters, bend them into quarters, and hit them with a hammer.
Then, I keep hitting them with a hammer while drinking beer.
Sometimes I do other things.
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