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Ten Ways To Destroy a Hard Disk 289

Posted by samzenpus
from the ten-is-better-than-one dept.
Barence writes "Following his blog last week about the homemade hard disk destroyer, Bustadrive, Mike Jennings was deluged with comments from readers, both on the blog and here on Slashdot. Most seemed to like the product, but also offered up far more innovative and madcap methods of hard disk destruction, with a wide range of implements used — household and otherwise. In this follow-up post, he rounds up the best of an imaginative bunch of hard disk destruction methods."
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Ten Ways To Destroy a Hard Disk

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  • Spot Welder? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <> on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:22PM (#29149125) Journal

    The average welding torch, meanwhile, is a fully paid-up member of the "life-threatening but enormously enjoyable" club - and there's no denying that a 3,000-degree flame would reduce the average hard disk platter to a pool of reflective liquid quicker than you could say "data protection". It's a superb suggestion from Steve, who also put forward the angle grinder for consideration. We're worried about him.

    A not as messy method might be a spot welder []. They go by different names but my dad's shop used to have a nice adjustable Miller spot welder that would function great for sheet metal work. Anyway, I can envision a homemade spot welder [] (very trivial to make) with a stand around it and two wooden 2' by 2' pieces of plywood with a handle grip sticking up and two hard drive holes counter sunk with a quarter inch lip to hold each drive (for 3.5" and 2.5" drives). Place the hard drive in the selected hole and clamp your spot welder on it and go to town. Mark your initials in it and you should have a pretty solid drive with no mess, no metal shreds laying around, no flying debris or sparks and probably easier to store/recycle/transport. Man, I wish I didn't live in the city and had a wood and metal machine shop.

  • by bugg (65930) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:29PM (#29149219) Homepage
    Everyone knows drives are most vulnerable when the heads are engaged, and the spinning platters should cause a single destructive action to potentially spread to the entire circumference. Why not do a write operation to the entire disk and hit it with a hammer during the write? Do that properly and the heads should go flying off in pieces into the platters, and the platters spinning with the loose head material should ensure nothing survives.
  • by gobbligook (465653) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:32PM (#29149265)

    Not too sure about this one anymore. Back in the day certainly.

  • Re:Spot Welder? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:42PM (#29149401)
    I used to be a blacksmith, and I still have my forge and tools. My favourite treatment is to heat the whole HDD assembly up to a nice orange/red colour (which is more than sufficient to demagnetise any media), then give it a few wallops with my 300 pound power hammer. The drive comes out about 1 millimetre thick, and I challenge even the most serious boffin to get any data off it after that.
  • Become a plumber (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lttlordfault (1561315) on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:03PM (#29149653)
    After reading the parent article, one thing I noticed was that welding torches and angle grinders seem to create a sense of well being within your average geek. I have to say, as a plumber who also has a keen interest in all things technological, there's nothing more satisfying than breaking into something with either a blow torch, angle grinder or a drill. I love my job, that I have to use these tools every day gives me great satisfaction and makes me feel like a real man :D

    When going through higher education I was originally aiming for a career in IT but half way through decided I didn't really fancy sitting at a desk all day. Becoming a plumber has definitely been the best decision I ever made, I get to work with really cool tools every day, plus I'm at the top of my profession having started plumbing about 6 years ago. I'm one of only 3 people qualified at my level in Mid Wales, and so am in incredible demand. I mainly work on servicing/maintenance on commercial/industrial heating and ventilation systems and see some incredibly cool tech every day. Sorry to brag, but as a self confessed geek, I have to say, plumbing is freaking awesome!

    Kinda off topic, sorry about that. I don't often have any connection with anything posted on /. but like to read about it anyway.

  • by Erbo (384) <obreerbo&gmail,com> on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:32PM (#29149955) Homepage Journal
    I had some old hard disks I needed to destroy a while back, so I thought I'd just open up the cases and then pound the platters into submission with a hammer. I did this on the kitchen floor.

    Unfortunately, the first drive I opened was an old IBM DeskStar. I had forgotten what DeskStar drive platters were made of...

    One swing and I had to call a halt to the whole operation while I swept a metric buttload of treacherous fragments of shattered glass up off my kitchen floor.

    I conducted the rest of the destruction outside, near the Dumpster.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @03:42PM (#29150061)

    Shooting with a .223 can have other interesting effects as well (at least that's the one I noticed this on). I used a hypervelocity varmint load, light bullet, real fast, like 3800 fps, in a good rifle that can take that kind of overload. This was a plastic tip thing designed to more or less explode on contact -- even a piece of cardboard will make it go fragmented.

    In shooting a floppy drive, one that really deserved it, I managed to hit the magnet for the drive motor, and powder it. The sudden disappearance of the field while still inside the windings made a high voltage pulse, a flash of lightning about 2 feet in diameter, and plastic parts flew 50 yards, and were burnt when recovered. As that drive had caused us no end of trouble, there was cheering all around.

    Regardless of what you believe about being able to get things back from the part they *let* you write on....this just has to be more fun than that. Too bad for you city guys who can't experience this firsthand like us country boys with a legal shooting range on the back 40.

    Next time we'll try Tannerite....heh.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:05PM (#29150269) Homepage

    Oh, really. You should have one of those good forensic guys go here [] and accept the challenge on that page; it would be pretty financially lucrative, if what you say is true. But it isn't true; such a recovery is impossible until proven otherwise.

  • by mb-texas (1611363) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:07PM (#29150285)
    See the "TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit" post from August 2nd: []
  • by hurfy (735314) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:29PM (#29150561)

    Hmm, i don't think it will work so well on modern drives but we had an old hard disk from our mini computer turn itself into a metal lathe one night. Came in the next day to find a whole room full of aluminum shavings. Shredded several of the 11" platters into nothingness. After the pieces went through the fan nothing was more than 1/8 x 1". At least everyone understood the value of the offline backup.....

    Very effective data destruction however it was a tad messy after it blew about a million aluminum curly-Q's all over the place.

    The part even harder to picture these days....they repaired the drive!

    Most of the new stuff is probably too hard to convince to destroy itself nearly so well :(

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:49PM (#29150773) Homepage Journal

    Where are your fucking shift and period keys?

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:55PM (#29151279) Journal

    Encrypt the drive first with whatever the strongest encryption available is and then write all zeroes to it?

    Then even if you can recover 50% of the bits, you would not be able to do anything with them unless you can figure out how to crack the encryption.

    Would that work?

  • by EkriirkE (1075937) on Friday August 21, 2009 @06:16PM (#29151461) Homepage
    Looks like; cood head crash photos: []
  • by thue (121682) on Friday August 21, 2009 @06:27PM (#29151573) Homepage

    A hard disk has inaccessible spare sectors, which will be logically swapped in if a sector fails. See []

    How do you guarantee that there isn't some important data lying around in the swapped out sector? It is not accessible via the hard drives external interface, but could be accessed by a raw reading of the disk.

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