How do you destroy data on a failed hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by UltraNEO*, May 8, 2011.

  1. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    If a drive is under warranty and fails, is there any way to erase the contents before sending it for warranty replacement that would not interfere with the warranty claim? Bulk tape eraser?

    OR, more commonly, own hard drives containing possible sensitive data which have failed in action. How do you discard them?

    (...if they're formerly raided units I don't mind discarding as it's only one slice of many but single drives?)
  2. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    If you are just scraping the drive than smash it with a hammer. JMO, but it's hardly worth the postage cost and hassle to send a HD in for 'repair'.

    A bulk tape eraser (or microwave oven) will NOT erase the data on the platters!!
  3. Vylen macrumors 65816

    Jun 3, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    As my Cryptography lecturer said.. the best way to securely erase data on a hard drive is to use an angle grinder to cut it up into little pieces... and then eat the little pieces...

    I suppose the latter part isn't compulsory.
  4. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    Hard drives are so cheap they are not worth repairing ... just scrap it
  5. Lesser Evets macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Jan 7, 2006
    I never take the chance. My failed drives all get a thorough sledging and then moist burial in the trash bin.
  6. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    I use a drill press. One or two holes through the platters front to back. Then I toss it. Or if no drill I wait till I get pissed off and smash it up with a hammer, then trash it. If it will not spin up you most likely need to destroy it physically. Although the likelihood that someone will find it and reseat the platters to get at your info is very unlikely.
  7. UltraNEO* thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Interesting but some resellers will reimburse the postage cost, at least mine does.

    Consumer desktop drives maybe but enterprise drives ain't soo cheap.
  8. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    I've sent drives back to the manufacturer and got replacements without any charges. A strong electromagnet should do some damage.
  9. Cole JM macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2011
    if you are in the USA shoot it with a shotgun, I can not verify if this is legal in all states or countries.
  10. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    If the drives contain sensible data, I don't bother with getting a replacement. Not even with SSDs. I through those in a professional hard drive shredder.

    Unfortunately, there really isn't a way to delete the data without mechanically trashing the drive. The story that big electromagnets destroy the data is a myth.
    Even the magnets used on junkyard don't destroy the data.
  11. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    You can only do this in the USA? lol
  12. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009

    If the data is truly sensitive, you don't send it anywhere.

    At my company even then .00001% chance of data being leaked is not worth the $100-$200 cost of a drive.
  13. DeeEss macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2011
  14. goodcow macrumors 6502a

    Aug 4, 2007
    All my drives are either in a RAID-0 stripe or part of a Drobo drive pack set, so my data is pretty unrecoverable, especially in terms of the Drobo, if I sent a failed drive in for warranty replacement.
  15. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
  16. Frosticus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2010
    Bristol, UK
    As others here have already said, IMO it's not worth sending it back - both due to cost and potential risk.

    Hit it. With something hard. Repeatedly.

    I use a big hammer and a centre punch. Job done.
  17. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Sounds like as good an opportunity as any to test this strategy.

  18. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Sledgehammer. One solid hit will destroy it, the rest are for fun.
  19. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I cannot think of any way to do what you ask. I am also dubious of the advice to use a magnetic field. Back in my IT days in the mid-90's we tried to bulk-destroy data on floppy disks by using powerful hard drive magnets and swiping them all over the floppies in various ways. Despite all the common knowledge and warnings about keeping magnets away from floppies, we were unable to ruin the data even with direct contact to powerful magnets.

    So I have no advice for you other than to destroy the drive. Next time use encryption for your sensitive data.
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It needs to be shredded to do it properly, but I'm not aware of services offered for a single disk (usually done via container pricing).

    As per drilling holes, a recovery service can actually get most of the data back (forensic methodologies).

    If you have access to an oxy-acetylene torch, you could melt the platters into slag. ;) You could also try the grinding method (not the surface, but either grind it all into powder or use a cutting wheel and make small pieces of each platter).
  21. Tom Sawyer macrumors 6502a

    Tom Sawyer

    Aug 29, 2007
  22. Frosticus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2010
    Bristol, UK
    Thermite is easy to make... I might have to try this :)
  23. Sarmiento macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    I actually open the drives and remove the platters. On the 3.5in. drives I use bolt cutters to cut them into pieces and on the 2.5in. you can get break them into pieces pretty easily but be careful because they do shatter like glass.

    Little bit of an over-kill but it's not like I'm destroying disks every day. I'm sure all the other methods work just the same.

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