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How To Safely Destroy An Old Hard-Drive

The era of privacy seems to be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you have to volunteer all your information. But this is exactly what thousands of people do every day when they throw away their old computer.

From this hard drive, even if you think it is not working, you can collect all the data.

What can you do to make sure your tax returns, social security number, and all banking information are unsuitable for an attacker looking for an electronics recycling warehouse? This is what we are going to review today.

Back up first

Backup first

We’re going to preach this until the whole world is converted. Make sure you back up any necessary data from your old hard drive, if at all possible.

We have articles on how to recover files from dead hard drives using Linux rescue disks. We have an article on how to use an external hard drive docking station to recover data from a dead hard drive. We even have an article on how to recover accidentally deleted files

There is no excuse. Back up your data.

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DoD style

The method of doing this is mod

If anyone wants to know how to make something completely useless, it is the people who use ordinances as part of their toolbox. Yes, good old military man.

Like everything in the military, there is a data destruction standard as well as a decision flowchart.

The Department of Defense (DoD) once had its own standard, but has fallen behind the standard set by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST).

The Department of Defense and countless other government agencies follow NIST Special Publication 800-88, Revision 1, Media Disinfection Guidelines.

The guide outlines three levels of wiping or clearing data, as they call it.


To cleanse data means to use logical methods that make data recovery difficult. In simple terms, it means using some kind of program to erase data from the hard drive.

Cleanup method – from guidelines –

“Overwriting media using organization approved and validated overwriting technologies / methods / tools. The cleanup procedure should consist of at least one write pass with a fixed data value, for example, all zeros. Multiple passes or more complex values ??can be used if desired. ”

You can do something like this by doing zero padding with a Linux live disk.


Cleaning is a step forward from cleaning. It includes the use of logical methods, as indicated above, and physical methods that make data recovery difficult. This should make it difficult even for those with a data recovery lab with all the fancy hardware.

Cleaning method. The recommendations are a bit verbose, so we’ll summarize.

Use the Clear method. Then perform a cryptographic erase, which will overwrite all zeros or a pseudo-random pattern. Do this several times. Then hit it with a very strong electromagnet, also known as a demagnetizer.

Or disassemble the hard drive and run a strong magnet over each of the platters or drives inside. It’s more than worth, to be honest. You can also completely destroy at this stage.


Yes, this is the level at which data is erased and the hard drive becomes completely useless for anything other than scrap metal and contemporary art projects.

Destruction method – from guidelines –

“Shred, decompose, grind or incinerate by incinerating the device in a licensed incinerator.”

So how is it safe to “grind, disintegrate, grind or incinerate ” a hard drive?

The safest way is to take it to a data destruction company. The cost of destroying a hard drive varies by company and method, but somewhere around $ 70 is not unreasonable. It’s cheap insurance if you know what the bad guy can do to your personality.

Reputable companies will have complete supply chain documentation to ensure that your hard drive is destroyed. But still, we’ve seen a lot of CSI episodes, so we know that sometimes the evidence just disappears.

We recommend that you ask to destroy him so that you can be completely sure that he is gone. Plus it’s really fun!

Data destruction specialists use a variety of techniques. Piercing, crushing, cutting, and actual crushing are the most popular methods. Incineration or destruction with acid is much less popular because it is dangerous to both people and the environment.

Can I destroy the hard drive myself?

Can I destroy the hard drive myself?

Please note that we do NOT recommend destroying the hard drive yourself. Even with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and good household tools, the risk of injury is too high.

DO NOT attempt to destroy the hard drive yourself. It’s too dangerous.

However, some people did this by wearing PPE, such as a face shield and goggles, a protective apron, gloves and possibly even headphones, and then destroyed the hard drive.

Drilling hard drive

Hard drive drill

Some people took a high quality drill or drill and drill for HSS or cobalt and made a few punctures right through the hard drive housing and the plates inside.

It could be very noisy and parts could fly. You can break the drill and it will fly too. People did it, and you shouldn’t.

Even more risky, some have taken large nails and hammered them through the hard drive with a hammer. This will help too. However, this is completely unsafe.

Destroying hard drive

Hard drive crushed

Driving through a hard drive in a car is not the best way to break it. There is a skating rink on it. But who has a skating rink at home?

If the press is not available, you can use a good old 5-pound sledgehammer. This makes a lot of sharp objects fly. To prevent this, some people put the hard drive in a sturdy cloth bag before pretending to be Thor.

Burn hard drive

Burning a hard drive

It often happens that a hard drive is thrown into a fire that burns for a long time under a layer of hot white coals. It is unwise and unsafe to do this. The hard drive contains toxic materials, so you don’t want them to enter the atmosphere. Please don’t do this.

Perhaps even more risky is using a blowtorch to burn a hard drive. This requires you to handle the cutter and hard disk directly. This is completely unsafe and should never be done.

Disassemble the hard drive and smash the platters

Take the hard drive away and crush the dishes

There are people who have a T7x50mm screwdriver and have used it to remove screws from a hard drive case. Then, using a hammer and a small pry bar, they inserted the pry bar into the holes in the case and opened it.

As soon as the case opens, they remove the plates and hit them with a hammer or step on them and tear them against a hard surface, scratching the plates to the point of uselessness. Again, don’t do this.

However, it is interesting to see the insides of the hard drive, and there are some powerful rare earth magnets inside that are fun but not safe to play with.


Ready meals

If you don’t get anything from it, take this wisdom with you.

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