How can I destroy my hard drive and the data on it?
Most of us have an old hard drive laying around and even those not as techie have an old computer they would love to get rid of but wont because they don’t know how to destroy a hard drive and they are scared of the data on the drive been stolen somehow or of identity theft.
There are many ways to destroy a hard drive permanently some are good for stress relief as well I find but some are more dangerous and are not recommended to be tried at home unless you know what you are doing.
So let’s look at how to destroy a hard drive in 8 different ways starting with the easiest but probably the least fun to the more dangerous ways of destroying your data.
Drilling holes in the Drive
This has been a popular choice for me for many years. Simply take the hard drive out of your computer and with a good powerful drill and drill bit put as many holes as you can throughout the drive.
I tend to put 5 or 6 holes in them for good measure and you can be pretty sure there is not much chance of a comeback for these drives.
Yes the good old brute force caveman method of getting a hammer and hitting it until it is in as many pieces as possible. The thing with doing this though is you want to be sure that you have damaged the platter on the inside as that is where the data is stored. This method is probably the easiest way to destroy a hard drive and it’s also great for stress relief so collect a few up and then get smashing!
There is no doubting that a Blowtorch will end any data protection worries by reducing the hard drive to a steaming mess. No real instructions need. Pull out the drive, burn to a cinder what you are left with is an unusable steaming pile of metal that was once your hard drive.
Dissect and Destroy
The inside of a hard drive is not very complicated and the part where your data is stored is simply a number of magnetic disks made out of aluminium or a combination of glass and ceramics that are relatively easy to destroy (Be sure to wear protective glasses) . Hard drives are relatively easy to take apart although you may need a Torx screwdriver (The star shaped ones) to take some drives apart.
Once you are inside a drive the platters are clear to see. Destroying these will destroy your data or if you want to get creative make something out of them as I have seen people do.
Very few of us have one but if you know someone with one then this would do the job nicely. There is no recovering data from a hard drive that has been destroyed into a thousand shards!
Using a powerful magnet
The data on a hard drive is stored on a magnetic platter and with a strong enough magnet you can destroy the data on this platter. The most powerful magnets are Neodymium Magnets which are much stronger than your standard magnets. Ironically these magnets are also part of a computer’s hard drive!
Be VERY careful with these magnets they are very strong and even the ones stored inside a small hard drive would be difficult to get off your fridge if attached. The larger more powerful ones can be very dangerous and can even break bones if fingers are caught between 2 of them you have been warned!
You do need a magnet of considerable size to destroy the data but once you have this magnet simply leave it on the top of your drive for a couple of minutes then spend a couple of minutes rubbing the magnet over the drive and you should find that all your data is destroyed.
This is similar to using a magnet but on an industrial scale. These machines tend to be very expensive (in the thousands). Hard drive degaussers alter the magnetic charge on a hard drive, which destroys the data on the drive and leaves the hard drive unusable. There is no recovery possible after using a Degaussing machine that is for sure.
This method is not recommended to be tried at home without the proper knowledge and safety equipment
Submerging your hard drive in hydrochloric acid which is a highly corrosive substance would do the job. Use a glass container with enough hydrochloric acid to cover the drive. Leave it submerged in the acid for 12 hours and to speed up the process put it in the sun.
Please remember that all these ways to destroy your hard drive are performed at your own risk and it is highly recommended you use the appropriate safety equipment such as safety glasses.
So know you know how to destroy a hard drive you can get rid of those old computers and drives taking up the space in your loft and garage and have a bit of fun in the process!