Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

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Kendoori
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Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Kendoori »

I am moving and have accumulated a whole bunch of old drives that I would like to render inoperable in an expedient way as possible. I am not worried about the CIA or KGB getting to my data, but I would like to make it so that no one can easily read the drives. Do I need to bite the bullet and use something like DBAN, or can I easily just drill a hole in the drive (I have a home power drill). If I do this, what kind of bit should I use.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by AndyMH »

I normally put them in the oven at gas mark 9 and then refurbish them with a large hammer.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by GS3 »

If they are extremely old and small drives then a blow with a big hammer will destroy them but if they are in the least usable I would consider destroying them as being wasteful and not socially considerate.

If they are still usable by someone you can just format them and, if you still want more, then overwrite them with a "wipe" program or just fill them up with big files. Then donate them to someone who can benefit.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by cliffcoggin »

Kendoori wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 1:33 pm
or can I easily just drill a hole in the drive (I have a home power drill). If I do this, what kind of bit should I use.
Any metal cutting bit will do the job. HSS, carbide, cobalt, take your pick.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Kendoori »

@cliffcoggin Have you done this?

I have a lot of drives, and formatting/wiping will take a while. Some are old too. I think it more practical to destroy them.

Something like this? https://www.amazon.com/Neiko-11402A-Stu ... =8-17&th=1
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Lady Fitzgerald »

Even drills can take a while (and it can be hard on the drills, especially if the platters are glass). I've used either a 4lb double jack hammer for 2.5" drives or an 8lb double jack sledge hammer for 3.5" drives to make sure the platters were destroyed. If the drives were reusable, rather than destroy them, I would wipe them with a program that would do no more than a triple pass of writing ones and zeros to the drives (the last time I had to wipe any HDDs, I was still on Win 7 and the program I had would wipe no less than three passes), then reformat them to clear the drives of the ones or zeroes. With today's drives, a single pass is all that is necessary to wipe a drive. One pass doesn't take all that long, even on a large drive; you can always let it run overnight.

Like GS3, I hate to just throw away or destroy something I have no further use for (such as HDDs; I only use SSDs now) when they can be of use to someone else. After wiping them, I gave all my HDDs to a friend who could use some of them and knew others who could use the ones he didn't need so they didn't go to waste.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by jjp2145-oldtimer »

I found hard drives remarkably resilient to blunt force the last time I destroyed one; I expected it to shatter when struck with a hammer, but it did not.

Next time I am going to try to hammer a ten-penny nail (3'' long) through the platters. That seems simpler then getting out a drill, and I hope it will create more cracks when I turn the hammer around to pull it back out. Of course, you are going to mess up the nail in the process, so don't try to build with it afterwords.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

I have found that a railroad spike and a hand held 8 pound sledge hammer works wonders.

So does a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with double odd buck...lol...DAMIEN
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by AZgl1500 »

I just use a 12 lb sledge hammer,
I don't want to waste time formatting them, as I am done with them.
besides, who wants a 15-20 year old spinning disk?
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Pierre »

jjp2145-oldtimer wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 8:16 pm
I found hard drives remarkably resilient to blunt force the last time I destroyed one; I expected it to shatter when struck with a hammer, but it did not.
likewise .. I've also found the same issue.

so .. place the old HDD in an vice that is bolted to your workshop bench,
& then use an power drill to drill a few holes into it.
:mrgreen:
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Lady Fitzgerald »

AZgl1500 wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 8:36 pm
I just use a 12 lb sledge hammer...
Yup! That'll do it. In spades! :lol: :!:

I used to use a short handled 4lb double jack but I got too old and decrepit to swing one one handed so I started using my trusty 8lb double jack two handed. Even for a weak flatulent geriatric, that was enough to reduce a 3.5" HDD to a near pancake with just one swing (I wouldn't be able swing a 12 pounder anymore, even two handed).
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by BenTrabetere »

AZgl1500 wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 8:36 pm
besides, who wants a 15-20 year old spinning disk?
Raises hands ... Me! I hate to see a functional HDD go to waste. Maybe it is because my first HDD, a Seagate ST506, it cost a fortune. It had a a whopping 5-MB of luxurious storage; it died a horrible death.

I use scavenged/salvaged drives for off-site archives of images, music, work projects, etc. I keep them in my safe deposit box, and pre-Covid I would add to the stack every month or so. Okay, to be honest, last year I started to use USB drives to create duplicate archives. Eventually I plan to transfer all of the archives to USB drives. The only thing stopping me is I have an endless supply of old HDDs to scavenge.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by JeffF73 »

I just take them apart and smash the disks from inside. While recycling the aluminum while I take my recyclables in. make some cash while in the process. lol
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by rossdv8 »

I had the same excitement recently. A big stash of old customers' drives languishing in what used to be my parts room when I had the workshop. Most of the customers are either dead or dying, so the data on them is probably irrelevant. And my own old business data is only the stuff from the 80s to about 2007, so it is also irrelevant.

Some time ago I polluted the atmosphere with a bonfire of lots of 8:, 5.25" and 3.5" floppies. But the hard drives were another challenge, as were hundreds of CD-Roms and DVD-Roms. I tried the hammer thing on the hard drives, and drilling was a pain.

Then I remembered the maggots! They could be useful..

So I began disassembling some drives. The oldest ones had metallic platters that once removed were easy enough to destroy and junk. The local tip has a section for scrap metal and electronics, so that took care of the boards and aluminium.

Then while I was bending some platters, one exploded sending glass shards everywhere!
Turns out most of the later drives were glass with a magnetic coating - I suppose, like cassette tape coating.

Anyway, at the cost of a little time spent with small tools pulling the platters and maggots out, I now have a decent collection of neodymium thingies that are great for closing screen doors, holding aluminium window screens in and doing various other wee jobbies all over the house :D
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by AndyMH »

I have a feeling you mean magnets!
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by rossdv8 »

AndyMH wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 4:45 am
I have a feeling you mean magnets!
Ahh, that would be the word. The thought is there though. Those Hard drive maGNETS stick like ship to a blanket. I use them face to face on screen doors. Wonderful things!
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by Moem »

Oh yes, HD magnets are very strong, in fact so strong that you have to be careful so you don't get any part of your skin pinched between them! They are very handy to have, I always save them. There are so many uses.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by GS3 »

BenTrabetere wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 10:26 pm
AZgl1500 wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 8:36 pm
besides, who wants a 15-20 year old spinning disk?
Raises hands ... Me! I hate to see a functional HDD go to waste. Maybe it is because my first HDD, a Seagate ST506, it cost a fortune. It had a a whopping 5-MB of luxurious storage; it died a horrible death.

I use scavenged/salvaged drives for off-site archives of images, music, work projects, etc. I keep them in my safe deposit box, and pre-Covid I would add to the stack every month or so. Okay, to be honest, last year I started to use USB drives to create duplicate archives. Eventually I plan to transfer all of the archives to USB drives. The only thing stopping me is I have an endless supply of old HDDs to scavenge.
I am not sure I trust a USB pendrive as much as a HDD.

I also hate to see waste in general. We waste while people around us are in need. And I don't mean in third world countries, I mean right among us. The poor cleaning woman who works in a rich neighborhood cannot afford a computer at all while the people she works for throw computers away because they cannot be bothered to think for a moment that it could be useful to someone. We do much talk about lofty ideals like sustainability, reducing global warming and carbon footprint, green energy and bla bla bla but when it comes to actually making a personal effort we cannot be bothered. All those things must be the responsibility of others, the government... someone ... just not me.

Old computers, including their disk drives, can be useful to people of limited means and, unfortunately, poverty and inequality are increasing in pretty much all the developed world. Find a charity or individual that will take them.

Some time ago I was visiting a friend and we were talking phones and computers. The woman he employs to help in his home is a single mother who lives close to the edge of poverty. She mentioned she had years of photos and memories on her mobile phone and was afraid to lose them if the phone was lost or damaged. The next time I went I took an old IDE HDD and copied all her photos from her phone to the HDD and gave it to her to keep as a backup.

I later mentioned to my friend that it would not be difficult to find an old computer to give to her so she could have a computer but he said we should forget the idea because she cannot afford to pay for an internet connection. Even in rich societies there are many people in need.

I have mentioned this before: I am typing this on a computer I found in the trash:

Code: Select all

Machine: Desktop HP Compaq dc7900  
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8400 bits: 64 type
RAM: 4 GB when I got it, 8 GB now 
Graphics: Intel 4 Series Integrated Graphics  Monitor resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz 
HDD: Seagate ST1000DM010-2EP102 size: 931.51 GiB speed: 3.0 Gb/s 
SSD: Kingston SUV400S37120G size: 111.79 GiB speed: 3.0 Gb/s 
The person who disposed of it into a dumpster could not be bothered to donate it somewhere. Every day thousands upon thousands of all sorts of appliances go to landfills.

I have a couple of 20 GB HDD that are still in useful employment. I have a few 40 GB HDD and quite a few 80 to 240 GB HDD that I use for backup purposes. I create an encrypted volume in the drive and copy my personal files there. Then I attach a card with date and contents and off it goes into the pile. The larger physical drives might have two or three backups. I have a stash of backups going back five or six years and sometime I have recovered some old file I deleted believing I no longer needed it.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by RollyShed »

GS3 wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 4:59 am
Some time ago I was visiting a friend and we were talking phones and computers. The woman he employs to help in his home is a single mother who lives close to the edge of poverty......I later mentioned to my friend that it would not be difficult to find an old computer to give to her so she could have a computer but he said we should forget the idea because she cannot afford to pay for an internet connection.
In this country, give her a free computer with free system and she goes and uses a free internet connection. All our libraries have free internet. Some supermarkets also have free internet. Coffee bar? Sit outside and get it free. I know of at least one village with free internet.
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Re: Destroy Old Hard Drives with a Drill?

Post by rossdv8 »

Machine: Desktop HP Compaq dc7900
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8400 bits: 64 type
RAM: 4 GB
That's sufficient to do a lot more than some people imagine. It was a 'top of the line configuration not all that long ago :-)

So many of us who can now afford more luxurious computers now have forgotten what we ran substantial businesses with not so long ago.
Until I was forced to give up my business, I enjoyed doing salvage jobs on customers' old machines to pass on to people with very little money. Some people in the industry said I was crazy doing freebies for poor people. It had an unintended benefit though. A surprising number of their families, friends, rellies and care providers became customers.

Towards the end though I could afford to give away a decent sized external drive as a pressie with a refurbished computer.
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