What do you do with your dead HDD?

Ecological issues around computing. This is an experimental forum.

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CA_Steve
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What do you do with your dead HDD?

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:25 am

Your hard drive is dead. It won't spin up or it fails to be read by the OS. It has personal or financial information on it.

How do you dispose of it in a manner that protects your information and does't contribute to a landfill?
.................................................

Over the years I've accumulated a few dead HDDs. I even found the 230MB drive from a 386 based system. I finally got tired of looking at the small stack of them, bought a Torx set, and removed the platters. :D

So now, I'm looking at a bunch of platters and reassembled HDDs. I'm thinking to just bend the platters and toss them into my recycling bin. The HDD's will go to Grey Bears and be passed onto a e-waste recycling firm.
...............................................
Any alternative thoughts?

tehfire
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Post by tehfire » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:13 am

If the hard drives spin up, then there are a few programs out on the web that can rewrite all the sectors on the drive, pretty much ensuring no data is left. If the hard drives aren't spinning, however, looks like you're gonna have to break out the hammer and do some hammer time on them :twisted:

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:52 am

yeah - hammer isn't that productive, eh?

andyb
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Post by andyb » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:23 am

Hammer is fun, if its out of warranty, you dont need/want any of the data off of the drive (it will cost you for recovery), and you dont want to take any chances at all then hammer the crap out of it.

What you need ideall is a nice flat piece of concrete that dou dont mind being scratched/cracked/holed, and an ordinary hammer (small headed ones are better than club-hammers), beat the crap out of it on both sides (I would suggest wearing eye protection).

If you do a good job the drive will actually be so broken that the moulded aluminium chassis will be in pieces where upon you can see the platters are FUBAR.

The other option is to actually dissasembe the HDD, you will need a selection of "torx" heads for your screwdriver, usually sizes 4, 6, 8, and 10, you can then use the platters as coasters just like you do with CD's (be careful as they are made of steel alloy and will scratch glass and soft woods).

You can then recycle the rest of the drive, if you also want to recycle the platters just give them a light sanding before you recycle them.

Have fun whatever you do with it.


Andy

PS: IBM/Hitachi laptop drives can be excelent fun, they used to make the platters out of some kind of glass substrate, a single hard hammer blow on the hub can shatter the platters so badly that the drive is litterally full of sand when you open it up :)

Trekmeister
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Post by Trekmeister » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:14 pm

Last time I retired a drive I took a drill and made a number of holes through the top and the platters. Not the most secure way to dispose of sensitive data, but likely enough to prevent anyone who would happen to come in contact with the drive after I threw it away.

The disposing part is taken care of by a recycling center around here, I just go there and dump it along with the other electronics.

Reachable
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Post by Reachable » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:06 pm

If you're not into the mayhem of hammering or drilling a drive to it's destruction, what other alternatives might there be?

I keep wondering what would happen if one were to put a HDD under a wheel of a tractor-trailer. I once asked a driver I know (a guy with an IQ of about 200) what the consequences would be. I didn't completely understand his answer about truck mechanics, and he wasn't well acquainted with computer parts.

NyteOwl
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Post by NyteOwl » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:41 pm

This assumes that either you don't want to recover the data, or that it is in fact unrecoverable:

You could also toss the platters on the BBQ for an hour. Extreme heat usually screws up magnetic media pretty well too.

I'm the paranoid sort, I open them up, remove the platters and take them to my friendly neighbourhood scrap metal dealer and toss them in his metal shredder.

The rest I send to the recycling depot with the next batch of defunct electronics.

If they are still in warranty, and you can open them without dmaging the security seal, a trip through a commercial bulk media eraser should do before returning them for replacement.

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:26 pm

Depending on how much agony the drive caused me...this.

Image

This was a drive on my work computer that cost me all my work data and allowed me to start defining IT policy at my company (there was none before).

This is what happens when a HDD meets a 30-30 rifle. The rifle wins. The corner was taken off by a 12-gauge slug, there also some dents from a .22LR (the bullets just bounce off) and maybe a hole or two from a 9mm Ruger. I still have it laying around somewhere as a warning! :twisted:

sea2stars
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Post by sea2stars » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:41 pm

Hrmm.. I wonder if my local gun range would take my pile of old hard drives (1980's on) off my hands?

Greg F.
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BEES

Post by Greg F. » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:51 pm

I keep bees and use carbolic acid to drive them out of hive. So soaking the HD in a solution of carbolic acid is.......wait for it.......diabolic.

andyb
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Post by andyb » Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:50 pm

I need to get some photos onto SPCR: Suggestions, where I can bullshit my details.

One specific reason is that we have a seriously wonky floor with some really wonky shelving (and You want to see the photos), they had problems with things moving around and/or rotting..... so I used some old shitty Fu-SHIT-Su HDD's.

7 Years later, the HDD's are still there, the shelves have not rusted badly, but most importantly thanks to Fujitsu, the best HDD's they ever made are still in service as a weight bearing platform.


Andy

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Re: What do you do with your dead HDD?

Post by cb95014 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:55 pm

CA_Steve wrote:I finally got tired of looking at the small stack of them, bought a Torx set, and removed the platters. :D

So now, I'm looking at a bunch of platters and reassembled HDDs. I'm thinking to just bend the platters and toss them into my recycling bin. The HDD's will go to Grey Bears and be passed onto a e-waste recycling firm.
This is basically what I do (turning the metal platters into 'tacos' and then mashing them in a vise; the glass platters shatter into little shards).

It really does not take much time to strip a HDD to bare aluminum (recycling bin) and take the electronics to "eWaste Heaven" periodically with other dead equipment & PCBs.

Cistron
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Re: BEES

Post by Cistron » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:58 pm

Greg F. wrote:I keep bees and use carbolic acid to drive them out of hive. So soaking the HD in a solution of carbolic acid is.......wait for it.......diabolic.
I hope you know that phenol is bad-ass toxic.

Greg F.
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Re: BEES

Post by Greg F. » Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:31 am

Cistron wrote:
Greg F. wrote:I keep bees and use carbolic acid to drive them out of hive. So soaking the HD in a solution of carbolic acid is.......wait for it.......diabolic.
I hope you know that phenol is bad-ass toxic.
I do. I am careful. The fumes drive the bees from the hive so that we can extract the honey. It has been industry standard for years. And I only did that one time. It was too much effort to accomplish what can be done with a sledge hammer.

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Post by thejamppa » Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:56 pm

Take off the platters, pour accid on platters and use casing as paper weight or fish net weight... Or then I could just take very coarse sandpaper, sand out platters and change smaller and finer. After while of "lapping" I bet there ain't much data to be recovered.

This is not joke: One guy in our battery accidently shot his cellphone with a howizer. We were given Cellphone bags, which hang on our necks and he pushed grenade in snapping bag into barrel. All he was left was piece of card around his neck. Phone left with grenade and is now in somewhere in Pohjankangas about 15,000 pieces.

That method will work for HDD's aswell. You can bet your butt on it. If someone can after that actually get data out of it, s/he has earned his payment doubled.

snq
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Post by snq » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:11 pm

I use the platters to put my drinks on, keep the magnets for fun, and the rest goes to the recycling bin.

MalcolmC
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Post by MalcolmC » Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:03 am

I use the hammer method - often destroy the pcb, and then drive an old screwdriver through the case.

I don't get them any more, but several years ago I had a few drives with glass platters, and these were really satisfying - bash them with the hammer and the glass disitegrated - gave a lovely broken sound when you shook the drive, and you just knew that no way was anyone ever going to read any data of that particular drive. (I suspect they were SCSI drives from old servers).

Cardnyl
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Post by Cardnyl » Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:46 am

I keep a very large speaker magnet on hand for wiping out hard drives in general.

andyb
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Post by andyb » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:15 am

I keep a very large speaker magnet on hand for wiping out hard drives in general.
Does that actually work......

I have used the stupidly powerful magnets that are actually used "inside" HDD's and that doesnt work, I thought that the magnetism had to be directed very very specifically to actually work.

Whereas physical damage will definitely work.


Andy

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Post by blackworx » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:43 am

andyb wrote:I need to get some photos onto SPCR: Suggestions, where I can bullshit my details.
ygpm

KyonCoraeL
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Post by KyonCoraeL » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:16 pm

any ideas on what I should do with 5 broken hard drives? my friends come over to fix their computers at my house and leave the broken parts... :(

wim
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Post by wim » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:04 pm

harddrives have these magnets which are used to move the heads around.
they magnets are very strong and you can have a bit of fun with them eg. wear one on either side of your nose :lol: also fun for science experiments / magic tricks etc.. make a gauss gun ?

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:35 am

andyb wrote:
I keep a very large speaker magnet on hand for wiping out hard drives in general.
Does that actually work......

I have used the stupidly powerful magnets that are actually used "inside" HDD's and that doesnt work, I thought that the magnetism had to be directed very very specifically to actually work.

Whereas physical damage will definitely work.


Andy
No, that doesn't work. It does wicked damage to a CRT though....

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Post by Cryoburner » Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:20 pm

jhhoffma wrote:This was a drive on my work computer that cost me all my work data and allowed me to start defining IT policy at my company (there was none before).
Hmm... You could have probably went through a data recovery agency to recover the work off your drive, if it was worth the cost. At least, until you used the rifle on it. : )

From an effectiveness standpoint, opening a drive and sanding the platters is probably the most effective way to destroy its data. If you're looking to sell an old computer with a working drive, using software to overwrite the drive's contents with multiple passes of random data should be effective enough in most cases, though it might take quite a few hours to complete.

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:37 pm

Cryoburner wrote: Hmm... You could have probably went through a data recovery agency to recover the work off your drive, if it was worth the cost.
I did, and the guy who I gave them to couldn't get anything off of it. Total head failure. The only other option was ~$1000 for a rebuild...not exactly cost effective. I managed to get most of the data back as the most important files I had on there (QC Data) had been emailed to coworkers.

yacoub
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Post by yacoub » Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:57 am

I only use my HDs for a year or two as a primary drive. Then I use them just for general data back-up for up to another year. Then I wipe them with a few runs in Eraser, defrag, and reformat a couple times. Then I take them apart. The magnets are fun to play with and other parts like the platters can find uses as well. :)

tima
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Post by tima » Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:55 pm

snq wrote:I use the platters to put my drinks on, keep the magnets for fun, and the rest goes to the recycling bin.
I'm juvenile enough to enjoy asking people to "Bring me that funny looking magnet off the fridge, please."

gopherbob
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Post by gopherbob » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:49 pm

The aluminum trays rattle in my new raid cage since they are all empty but 1. I recently took apart a few hard drives for fun and stuck them in the empty trays to stop the rattling.

The magnets make great ultra fridgerator magnets. The maxtor 250mb(not a typo!)'s magnets were suprisingly stronger than "newer" drives.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:09 pm

A friend told me the magnets are the best stud finder he's ever used. They glom right onto a nail in the stud.

wim
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Post by wim » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:47 pm

nice idea, i'll try it sometime..

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