Destroying a Hard Drive

By Mastertone_Tech ·
I have two hard drives I am trying to dispose of. One is from a laptop CTX I had since 1996 - 1GB hard drive!!! And another from a Dell laptop I currently use, which just went bad.

I was able to run FDISK on the first one and deleted all the partitions without any problem.

I am not able to do anything on the second one. How can I destroy all possible information from it? Is there any other intelligent way to do it before using my sledge-hammer?

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All Answers

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A light hammer tap will do

by nepenthe0 In reply to Destroying a Hard Drive

As you know, the platters are made of brittle glass. They shatter easily. Rap the hard drive with a sharp hammer ****, and shake the drive to confirm that the platters are history.

Before you perform such wanton destruction, be advised that the platters make excellent personal mirrors. Get out your Dremel tool and grind off the case rivets. Unscrew the platters from their spindle, and you now have an excellent pocket mirror. Give the 2nd (or 3rd) platter to a family member or friend.

Rick/Portland, OR

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And don't forget, there are two super magnets inside every drive...

by robo_dev In reply to A light hammer tap will d ...

Every hard drive has two neodymium super magnets (they're crescent shaped).

Those are amazing fun. It takes literally all your strength to separate the two of them, and you can do all sorts of office pranks with them.

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Some Ideas

by TheChas In reply to Destroying a Hard Drive

First, keep in mind that just deleting the partitions on a drive does NOT provide any level of data security.

At a minimum, you need to create new partitions of a different size in order to make it difficult for someone to recover the data from the drive.

Better still is to run one of the many DOD rated hard drive cleansing programs that write successive passes of 1's and 0's to the drive.

Still, if the data is either sensitive enough, or of high value, the only real answer is to physically destroy the platters.

The best way to destroy the platter is to melt it down. As a bonus, when you tear the drive down to remove the platter, you get some nifty magnets.

Again, the amount of effort you need to put into securing a hard drive depends on how valuable the data could be.


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I personally destroy the Magnetic covering on the platters

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Destroying a Hard Drive

To do this you need some Tamper proof Torx Keys to unscrew the top cover off the case and then remove the Platters by unscrewing the Phillips screws that are generally used to fix the platters to the Motor.

Some drives like the IBM Desk Star had Glass Platters but the majority are metal Platters so all you need do is run a Hot Flame over the Platters and burn off the Magnetic Material covering the surface of the platters both sides.

For high Value Business Drives I have the Platters melted down in an industrial furnace but this isn't necessary for Domestic drives.


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Fdisk won't meake it unrecoverable.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Destroying a Hard Drive

You can download various shredders, personally though like others I use a hammer, no one is going to recover anything off a handfull of powder.

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Thank you all!!!

by Mastertone_Tech In reply to Fdisk won't meake it unre ...

Specially for bringing it about the FDISK. I always thought that running that facility would be more than enough to erase all the data from the HD.

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Because you mentioned destroying the Drive I didn't bother to

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Thank you all!!!

Correct that point as I thought is was a waste of time.

But for your own reference many years ago now I spent several months in 2 Court Cases because some idiot Bureaucrat thought that they could save some money and run FDisk over all the HDD in computers that where being sold off at auction after being decommissioned. I was originally replacing the HDD and smashing the ones that came out but this was a massive waste is someones eyes. So they decided that I didn't know what it was I was doing and had me removed by the Police but just in case I had stolen any of their data they retained all the new unopened HDD and my tools just in case there was something in there.

Naturally the hand tools disappeared and all the drives when they where eventually returned where either destroyed or just plain missing. Of course they refused to pay for what was LOST. :0

But 5 months latter I was served with some paper to appear as a Witness in a court Action that was pending because one kid had not only recovered the Data off the drives well 2 of them at least but had offered to sell that data to the members of the public who's records they where. The kid in question was being accused of Stealing the Data and I was a "Expert" Witness because I was the one who was supposed to know what had happened. The Defense Council had got wind of the issue and Subpoenaed me after I had appeared as a Defense Witness in the action against the department by those affected by the breach where I was a "Hostile" Witness.

The time between the 2 Appearances before the same judge was 10 Days. With the action against the Department being the first case heard. So I went from an Expert to a Hostile Witness in the space of several Days and the council for the Department saw nothing at all wrong with this state of affairs and he ran both cases. :0

The outcome of that case was that the new owner Owned the Drives and everything on them so had done nothing wrong and was awarded Costs. Big surprise there for everyone but the Techs involved. A couple of years latter several State Computers where sold off and as they came from a Non Critical Area where not wiped or had the HDD removed they even went out with the Original OS loaded and nothing at all was done to the computers as they didn't have any Important Data on them. The E Mail Address of the State Premier wasn't considered as Important and when the new owner started sending the Premier E Mails asking for Money this was looked at a different way.

So here at least if you can recover Data off a HDD that has been sold by anyone you own it and can do as you like with it as the original owner has allowed this to happen.


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...back to old methods.

by Mastertone_Tech In reply to Because you mentioned des ...

Some people tease me because I don't have any username and passwords stored in my hard-drive any longer. I use a small note pad only containing that information. What they don't know is that I use an encryption of my own just in case I loose the pad or whatever. Now, I am finding out that there is no better tool to destroy a hard-drive than a hammer. I should have thought about it earlier.

By the way, this ordeal you went through was quite interesting.

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Well it did have a good outcome in the end

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to ...back to old methods.

The Government stopped the individual departments selling their own stuff and made them return it all to the Central IT Section for decommissioning. Of course this removed the ability of the individual Departments from making money on selling the hardware but at least it removed the possibility of this happening again.

On the up side it allowed me to stop supporting Government Agencies eventually and I'm much happier now.


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I hear C4 does a very good job, :) :)

Give it to the Army they are always looking for something to **** up.

Please post back if you have any more problems or questions.

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