Understand How to Destroy a Hard Drive Before You Regret

how to physically destroy a computer hard drive

The average lifespan of a desktop is about 3-5 years. You might look forward to upgrading your system but what to do when the old tech?

Do you know how to destroy a hard drive?

Well if you don’t know about it, then it’s the time for you to learn a bit in this regard.

Studies have found that the only way by which you can stop fraudsters from stealing the data from your old computer hard drive is to destroy that hard drive.

You need to do this carefully because there are are many free and paid software available online by which anyone can quickly recover data from a hard drive that you think is permanently deleted.

Most criminals get the old computer from internet auction sites, and in this way, they get the data of the users.

Well, you can get rid of your hard drive by a lot of methods. There are mare many hard drive destroyer and wipe tool available too to help you in this regard.

This article contains a lot of information in this regard.

Some of the main points that this article explains are:

  • Hard drive destruction physically
  • Wiping the drive
  • Destroying hard drive without removing it
  • Wiping tool
  • What to do with the old and dead drives?

How to Physically Destroy a Hard Drive?

how to destroy a hard drive

Anything that damages the platter comes under physically destroying the drive.

This way is a bit tough method.

If you do not intend to use that drive again, then the best way is to destroy it physically.

  • The platter consists of aluminum plates with a magnetic plate.
  • You can also crush it to destroy the data on it.
  • A sledgehammer would be enough for this task but if you want you can use other objects too.

Hard Drive Destruction:

hard drive destruction

On an HDD, the data is stored magnetically. So they can be destroyed by the following methods.

These methods are described briefly here. They will be explained ahead in the article too.

1) Degaussing:

This degaussing refers to changing the magnetism.

You can use a degausser.

This method will disrupt the magnetic domains on your drive.

One more thing that you should be aware of is that on degaussing a drive, its firmware will also get affected.

In this way, it will be completely useless.

2) Heating the Drive:

This heating means melting which changes the magnetism.

3) Hammering:

Hammering on it makes it difficult to read the data.

When the metal deforms, it becomes more difficult to determine which sectors contain the data.

4) Drilling:

  • This drilling removes the sectors altogether.
  • It removes the layout physically just like hammering.
  • It also generates heats.

5) Shooting:

It is better than hammering.

6) Chemical Corrosion:

This method includes removing the magnetic substrate from the platter, so nothing is left to recover.

7) Shredding:

This leaves only the metal scarps thus nothing to recover.

Some other methods include:

  • Grinding
  • Disintegration
  • Incineration
  • Pulverization

How to Destroy a Hard Drive With Water?

Well, the hard drives that have got wet are not supposed to be eradicated.

Water alone cannot harm them.

The data is stored on the disk magnetically.

Thus by water, the data is recoverable. Water alone is not enough.

So you can get this work done by using chemicals solutions.

A) Sodium Bicarbonate Solution:

You can also use sodium bicarbonate, an electrolyte to destroy it.

B) Hydrofluoric Acid:

Hydrofluoric acid can help you try it.

But it is a bit dangerous to handle it.

Hydrofluoric acid is a contact poison. Exposure to it can cause heart attack and even death too.

So I advise you not to use it.

How to Destroy a Hard Drive at Home?

Heating Methods

One of the easiest ways of destroying is by heating it over a high temperature(above 1100 centigrade) and then cooling it below 900 centigrade.

This will first reset the material’s magnetic field, and it will cause an antiferromagnetic effect which will make the data written on it irretrievable.

This happens because the cobalt oxidized to Co3O4 then on cooling it loses the oxygen atom and becomes CoO.

Well, heating sometimes alone is not enough to destroy it.

You can achieve this by transforming your platter into piles of molten liquid.

Heating Methods:

For this you can use :

A) A Standby Fire.

It will undoubtedly liquify your hard drive.

B) A Blowtorch.

Get a protective gear then hold the platters at a distance. You can use a heat-resistant tool to do this. you will see it melting

C) Utilize the Thermite:
  1. Fill a large container with sand.
  2. Place the platter on this bucket of sand
  3. then light a container with thermite over the platters.

Be careful while doing this and don’t use it indoors, near children, in the forest and near yourself too.

D) By Microwave:
  1. Buy an old microwave.
  2. Put the drive in it and then heat it for 1-3 minutes.
  3. Then get far away from this place ad the glass platters can shatter too.
  4. Open the microwave with the help of a broom.

How to Destroy a Computer Hard Drive?

destroy hdd data

  1. To do this first, you need to locate the position of the hard drive on your computer.
  2. Then remove the screws using a screwdriver.
  3. Sometimes screws are hidden underneath, so you need to open them too.
  4. Remove the drive from the computer
  5. Then strike it on the various side so that it gets open
  6. After it is opened, maneuver out the round platter disk from inside.
  7. This round platter is silver in color.
  8. Then scratch this platter.
  9. You can also cut it up to destroy it.

How to Destroy a Laptop Hard Drive?

how to destroy a laptop hard drive

Before moving ahead, you need to know how it works and records data.

It uses a system of binary numbers, i.e., 0 and 1 to record data.

This data is stored in blocks on a platter.

The inner platter can be made from different materials.

Some such materials include:

  • Ceramic
  • Glass
  • Aluminum

Well, you can use a sharp magnet to do this task.

1) Take a Backup of Your Data:

Well if you have your favorite songs and some family pictures stored in it, then you will surely need them again.

So make a backup if it contains your essential data,

2) Wipe the Drive:

Before destroying it, you need to clean the whole data from the drive.

Well, the data after destruction is irretrievable, but that’s not 100pencet correct every time.

3) Open the Case:

  • Open the case and locate the hard disk drive.
  • The position at which they are located might differ from case to case.
  • If you are having any difficulty in searching for it, then search for that model from your manufacturer’s site.
    Open the drive:

4) Smash the Drive:

  • Take out the platter and smash it with a hammer.
  • Then collect the pieces and dispose of them.

How to Destroy a Hard Drive Without Removing it?

Software-based shredders can do this task for you.

One of the easiest and the most common method includes deleting the data on it and then replacing it with any arbitrary characters.

How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive?

Wiping means removing its content permanently.

On formatting a drive or deleting its partitions, what you are doing is only removing the file system and making the data invisible to users, and that data is not entirely gone.

By using a file recovery software or some specialized hardware, one can quickly recover those file on that drive.

To make sure that all data is entirely removed, you need to wipe it using some special software

Time Consumed:

The time is taken to complete this process can be from several minutes to some hours.

It all depends on the size of the data and the software that you are using.

Hard Drive Wipe Tool:

Data destruction software is also termed as:

  • Data sanitization software
  • Hard drive eraser software
  • Disk wipe software

On deleting files and emptying the recycle bin, you think that that the data is deleted.
But in reality, it isn’t.

You just deleted the reference to that data, so OS cant finds it.

The data is still there and can be recovered with some tools.

If you intend to use the drive after removing its data, then you need to use the destruction software.

Some such software to delete the data include:

  • DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke)
  • CBL Data Shredder
  • HDShreddrr Free edition
  • HDDErase
  • MHDD
  • PCDiskEraser
  • KillDisk
  • Macrorit Data Wiper
  • Eraser
  • Freeraser
  • Disk Wipe
  • Hard wipe
  • Secure eraser
  • Privazer
  • PC Shredder
  • Remo Drive Wipe
  • CCleaner
  • File Shredder
  • Hard Drive Eraser
  • Super File Shredder
  • Puran Wipe Disk
  • BitKiller
  • DPWipe
  • DeleteOnClick
  • CopyWipe
  • SDelete
  • Wise Care 365
  • Baidu Antivirus
  • Hdparm

Hard Drive Destroyer:

Hard Drive Destroyer

Some such destroyer’s include:

  • PD-5
  • AML-HD Distort
  • DB-4000
  • DF-8
  • DX-8
  • PDS-75
  • PDS-50
  • PDS-100
  • MCD-HS
  • ACD-HS
  • FD87HD
  • HDC-V

What to Do With the Old Hard Drives?

What to Do With the Old Hard Drives

If you intend to use it again then you will need to wipe out the data entirely by some special software and later use in the following ways:

1) Portable Drive:

Well if that drive is still working then damaging it would be a wrong decision. Instead, you can wipe its data and turn it into a portable drive.

2) NAS:

You can use it to build your own Network attached storage (NAS).

In this way, your data will be accessible easily by other devices that are connected to your network.

 For Dead Drive:

If the drive is dead, then you can make following projects from it.

From the parts of the old drive, you can quickly make a cool clock

You can also create following useful things from it:

  • Secret safe
  • Speakers
  • Laser oscilloscope
  • Wind chimes
  • Grinder
  • Tesla turbine
  • Mic stand
  • Cotton candy machine
  • Cell phone charger

Final Words:

Many people don’t know what to do with old hard drives.

Many computer and laptops users have zero knowledge in this regard.

They never realize that they have a lot of sensitive data on such drive. Their risk is exponentially more significant than the business level. The files on it might contain your bank account information or some other vital data of this sort.

The answer is to wipe your data or destroy them physically.

If you don’t know how to destroy a hard drive on physically or on a laptop, then you are putting you some secure data on risk.

The only way of stopping criminals from stealing data from the old or secondhand computer is to destroy those old drives.

There are many hard drive destroyer and wipe tools available by which you can also remove the data permanently and destroy them, so they become useless.


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