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Guide to Properly Dispose of Your Old Hard Drives

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With the passage of time some of us accumulate old hard drives from old computers that we have not had time to erase properly to throw them away.

Today we’re going to show you how to properly dispose of your old hard drives.

Sooner or later the time will come when we have to say goodbye to our faithful and dear hard drive. We will have to replace it with a bigger and faster hard drive.

There are two reasons why you want to destroy your hard drive.

  • First you want to dispose of a broken hard drive without anyone else being able to recover data later.
  • Second, you want to destroy proofs or embarrassments. We’ll explain what you have to do.

Normally, it’s not enough to format a hard drive to be completely safe … but for home use, all it takes is:

Why would you destroy a hard drive?

Many people mistakenly still believe that it’s safe enough to simply erase or format all data from a hard drive. But not even that works when a hard drive is no longer readable and writable. If you cannot, that does not mean that others will not read it. There are special service providers who can read data from damaged hard drives even after fire damage.

As long as the specialists are able to disassemble, re-clamp, and rotate the individual disks of a hard drive, they can also try to read data.

So if you are concerned about data security or evidence destruction, then you have to destroy the hard drive.

Destroy your old hard drive in various ways

Hard disks consist of several disks arranged one above the other, which are described by the read / write heads. The surface is magnetizable. In this way, the data is brought to the disk. So if you want to destroy a hard drive, you have to damage those discs.

  • You’re pretty sure if the discs are badly bent or even broken. In that case, they can no longer be scanned by normal reading heads.
  • Another method is strong heat. However, you must take into account that the melting point of the magnetizable cobalt-nickel alloy is around 700 degrees Celsius. As long as you do not reach this temperature, the data is recoverable.
  • The easiest way is magnetism. The data is written and read with magnets. A powerful magnet can erase the entire surface of a hard drive in one go.

Break the hard disk with the hammer

Destroying the hard drive with a hammer, an ax or a pickaxe is a relatively safe method. However, you should not just limit yourself to simply hammering on the hard disk case. You have to disassemble the plate for it! Then you take the individual discs of the hard drive and damage them thoroughly.

  • Turn off your computer completely, remove the power cable, and remove the hard disk.
  • If you have found and removed the hard drive, remove all screws to open the hard drive.
  • Now your hard drive should look similar to the one on the picture. On the round disk is your data. This area must be destroyed.
  • At the top right (see picture) the read and write head is attached with a very strong magnet. Remove the magnet and set it aside.
  • If desired, now is the time to let off all you’re pent up aggression. With a hammer and goggles, the hard disk can be destroyed.

Hard drives and heat

As mentioned before, heat is not an absolute safe way to destroy a hard drive. You have to severely damage the surface of the individual discs and this is not possible with a campfire, grill or oven.

A welding torch or smelting furnace can help you with that, but this option is unlikely to be available to most.

Magnets always work

If you want to magnetize the surface of a hard drive to erase all data, then the fridge magnet is not enough.

Special electromagnets are almost as powerful as a nuclear spin tomography, but you do not have to go that far. It is enough a strong neodymium magnet, you get at Amazon for about 50 dollars.

The thing has a total grip of 420 kilograms – so you could hang on to a steel girder. This power is also enough to magnetize a hard disk thoroughly and thus destroy the data.

Warning: These magnets are so strong that you can seriously hurt yourself! If you put your fingers between the magnets and a steel plate, you’ll need to use several hundred pounds of pulling force to loosen it. It is best to put it somewhere (it weighs at least 1.2 kg) and leads the hard drive over it.

In addition, you should keep the magnet separate from any technical device including wristwatch.

We hope with all these ways you can easily dispose all of your old Hard Drives in one go.

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