Skip to comments.How do I destroy the data on a crashed hard drive?
Posted on 02/26/2009 9:00:20 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
Last Friday morning when I got to the office, I found that my computer had the infamous Microsoft Blue Screen of Death. I tried rebooting, but the SCSI card got no response from my boot drive. This wasn't a huge problem, because I had already intended to upgrade my system drive and already had my data partitions copied to the new drive. After a little work I was able to restore a recent enough backup of my system drive to my new system drive and get the computer runing again.
My problem now is how do I destroy the data that still exists on the hard drive platters so they can't be read and recovered by anyone else even someone with access to a clean room who could fix the drive well enough to read any data that still exists on them. I've considered using my bulk eraser to erase the data that still exists and then using an electric drill to put holes in the platters.
Hoo boy! I didn’t know that they were that pervasive...
That's one way to do it. But really you should load it to another computer and use a wipe program with 15 passes minimum if you want to really ensure that it's gone.
Ummmm..., paranoia taking effect... LOL...
Well, depends on how crashed .... as in you can load it into another PC and it is a recognized drive?
If so, you can run undelete utilities on it but don't format or copy anything into it until you get everything off.
If it's still not recognized try slamming it sideways on the sidewalk ONCE. That might get it loose enough to load one last time.
If that doesn't work .... better pony up some cash because recovery by physical platters is not cheap.
You can build a ‘poor man’s clean room’ with an unused dry cleaning bag, a clean area and some tack cloth.
Step 1. Collect all the tools you will need and wash down the tools you can wash. It’s important to collect all your tools as adding tools later is problematic.
Step 2. Take a can of air an spray a small amount of dry clean air into the dry cleaning bag. You want all but one end air tight so you will need to tape up the hanger hole at the neck. Lay something long and narrow like a length of broom stick across the bag to seal in the clean air space. leave most of the bag un-inflated. Get extra bags.
Step 3. Put on fresh gloves, then hit the tools and the drive with the tack cloth and put them into the un-inflated part of the dry cleaner bag. Get as little air in the bag as possible, squeeze the air out from around the tools, then move the seal bar to the end of the bag, moving the clean air bubble to the tools and the tools and drive into the clean air bubble.
Viola, your tools and drive are in a poor mans clean room. Be careful not to rip the bag when using the tools.
Step 4. Fix drive...
(Step 5. Profit?)
This process will also likely render the drive completely unreadable so will serve both conversations going on this thread. Good fun all around.
Freezing a drive is particularly useful for clearing up ‘stickledge’ (where the head sticks to the platter.) It’s somewhat common after long times in storage. For these a ‘final’ casual attempt at fixing is to drop the drive about 1cm squarely onto the drives side. This is to break the adhesion between the head and the platter. Again these types of ‘fixes’ can wreck things worse then they fix. A one cm square drop ‘shouldn’t’ break the drive. Be careful, standing a drive on end and lengthwise and toppling it is enough to wreck it.
It worked for Vito when he whacked Fanucci.
THANK YOU for posting this, and look forward to the freeper’s responses.
My home computer hard drive crashed this week. It started out being REALLY slow to boot open. Then, each day, slower and slower. Then it just quit!!!
That’s okay, I have a laptop I am working on now. The problem is I lost all my email address book files, bookmarks I used for research, etc. Like a dummy I didn’t back up a lot of files I should have.
LESSON LEARNED — And as usual, the HARD way.
Makes me feel better to have company, knowing I am not the only one with a dead computer hard drive.
Heck, I miss it, the bookmarks, address book of ALL the people I need to email from time to time, including those involving my work, etc. I do also worry about how to dispose of this thing. I am computer illiterate, except for emailing my articles and surfing websites, freeping. I have used my personal financial info a few times to order something online.
I have a big firepit in my yard, and I may just burn it. But I sure would like to get some files off there first. I have nothing in it that would get me in trouble, just old articles I use for future reference for freelancing articles.
Most crashed hard drives have absolutely nothing wrong with the hard drive platters - it is just the drive controllers that have gone bad.
Your husband should be able to find software on the internet for free that basically bypasses the drive controller and reads the raw data. It's a slow process, but sure beats paying somebody $1,000 to do basically the same thing.
I've personally done this with hard drives that I've owned.
It doesn’t recognize the external drive at all? (vs. letting you select the folder but saying it’s ‘not a valid location.’) IIRC the wizard wants you to select a folder to restore from.
The wizard is the path to unpacking those .dat files. Your chances are much better then with recovering the original drive.
Changing the extension is unlikely to work. Third party unpackers might/will be able to unpack the .dat files (depending on how evil Balmer and Co are being lately.) Going that path leaves you to sort out the good data though, likely tedious.
Googling. (Finding a typical MS !@#$!%. !@$!@8# !@# unbelivable @#$` ~!# *&(% and their mother !#$!%(*7 &%*!%$ with a fork.)
Check which version of MigWiz.exe you are using (vs. the version you used to back it up with). Check XP service packs (if you can remember when you backed up/check the .dat file date and if you were staying current you can infer which service pack you were at). If you have the old XP disk (presumably where you got the wizard when you backed up) try using it to restore (if you have a newer XP it’s version of the wizard is better etc but apparently not compatible).
Look at Rmv2opq and Fastconv. Good luck. It looks a mess.
If you consider ‘seeking professional help’ make sure you backup your backup (using good old fashioned file copies) before you let someone mess with it. There are many incompetents out there.
Buy some Coca-Cola and pour it in a bowl. Drop the dead drive in the bowl and let it sit for a few days. No one will ever be able to extract one bit of data from what’s left of that drive, ever.
SAFETY MESSAGE FOR IDIOTS: Don’t drink the coke after you soak a disk drive in it. Repeat, discard, do not drink the coke.
I miss MFM drives.
You could get those to spin with simple DC power.
Being larger (5.25) once uncovered and spinning they were cool to shoot.
Gotta figure out how to get a 10,000 rpm bare naked drive to spin in the woods. Perhaps a USB enclosure.
Check with your homeowner's or business insurance. You may already have insurance to cover the cost of recovering the data.
Infect it with syphillis and then leak the information that it it is a dirty whore.
A 12 guage slug ahould do it!
“how do I destroy the data that still exists on the hard drive platters”
I am sure you started this thread as a joke, but I am not sure why.
Well, it is a lazy day here on Cebu, so it is fun to read the replies :)
I’d use a hugh magnet!
Hammer. Not only will it destroy the drive you will get some exercise and work off your hostilities (we all got those).
HDD Regenerator has saved my pork rinds more than once...
I doubt it, but I’ll have my husband check it out! Thanks!
Would Pepsi work as well? I sure would not like to use one of my cokes, pepsi allright, CocaCola, not for harddrives,
Will the drive spin up and do you have a network?
DESTRUCTION OF ABANDONED MATERIAL IN THE COMBAT ZONE
In case it should become necessary to prevent the capture of this equipment, and when ordered to do so, DESTROY IT SO THAT NO PART OF IT IS SALVAGEABLE, RECOGNIZABLE, OR USABLE BY THE ENEMY, BURN ALL PAPERS AND BOOKS.
1. Explosives, when provided
2. Hammers, axes, sledges, or whatever heavy objects are readily available.
3. Burning by means of incendiaries, such as gasoline, oil, paper, or wood.
4. Grenades and shots from available arms.
5. When possible, and time permits, bury all debris or dispose of it in streams or other bodies of water.
1. Obliterate all identifying marks. Destroy nameplates and electrical circuit labels.
2. Demolish all panels, castings, switch and instrument boards.
3. Destroy all controls, switches, relays, connecting means and meters.
4. Rip out all wiring in electrical equipment. Smash gas, oil and water cooling systems in gas-engine generators, etc.
5. Smash every electrical or mechanical part whether rotating, moving, or fixed.
6. Break up all operating instruments, such as keys, phones, microphones, etc.
7. Destroy all classes of carrying cases, straps, containers, etc.
And the microwave oven.
Put the drive in a box and place the box in the back of your closet on a shelf and forget about it. There. Data is secure.
Shoot the hell out of it
They're called Torx screws, for the record. Sized by number; T1, T2, T3, etc.
Here’s how I do it.
You need a torx T-8
Open the lid and attach to computer power supply.
Watch the drive spin up and use a flat head screwdriver or nail or whatever and draw pretty pictures on the top platter. Very similar to using a lathe if you’ve done that. Take platter off flip over, re-attach...do the same for the other side. Rinse/repeat until all the platters feel like an old Vinyl record.
Thereafter you can bend and break them or burn them or whatever. Just tossing them in the trash after that is probably enough.
A nine pound sledge hammer has always worked for me.
Sometimes the drive will “spin up” inside one of those USB external drive cases and you are able to recover at least some of the data. We do it at work for clients all the time. It almost always works - dependent upon how “crashed” the drive is.
If you purchase a case, be sure you get the correct one: SATA or IEDI.
If any part of the drive remains, it could lead to the building of Skynet and bring about Judgment Day.
1) Throw it in a fire.
2) Smash it to little pieces with a sledge hammer
3) Ignite a sample of thermite on top of it
4) Shoot it. Repeatedly.
5) Run over it with a steamroller. Repeatedly.
6) Take the platters out and cut them up with a bandsaw.
7) Drill lots of holes in it.
8) Sulfuric acid.
9) Apply sandpaper to the platters
10) Hand it to Helen Thomas.
You can specifically add your home computer and data to your homeowners insurance, it's maybe $50 a year more. As a writer, I need it on my home computer, because a hard drive crash represents hundreds of hours of my life lost.
I knew from working in the disaster recovery business that hardware is cheap - but the data, WOW! That got expensive rather quickly. Still, if you decide to do it, go with the pros - they know what they are doing.
Like you, I lost a bunch of pictures and other things when our old home system died. Didn't have coverage on that system because it didn't have my writing on it; now all systems are covered. It hurts...
Sorry, I thought this was the Friday Silliness thread!
Well, I have heard this said..., “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
[ or something to that effect...]
No I normally leave the system on 24-7. It got a BSOD overnight after running continously for several days. It was when I attempted to reboot that I discovered that the system could not retrieve data from the drive. The SCSI controller reports that the device doesn't respond, and it has not responded at any time for a whole week. It won't even report the drive capacity at boot up when the SCSI controller polls all the devices on the SCSI chain.
Microsoft SCANDISK is rather amateurish compared to Gibson Research's Spinrite 6.0. If you have a file with data on marginal sectors, Spinrite can retrieve most or all of the data. In fact, I would strongly urge anyone who has data on a fragile hard drive not to use SCANDISK, because it will find bad sectors on the drive, report them to the hard disk, and cause the disk to replace the sector with a replacement sector before copying the contents to another location. This means you can permanently damage a file that occupies just one bad sector using SCANDISK. Spinrite will use heroic measures to retrieve data, and it will save every bit that it can read and save it to good portions of the hard disk before instructing the hard disk to permanently mark the sector as bad.
If Scandisk reports surface flaws you might as well pitch the drive as the drive surface can only get worse.
Spinrite can als be used for routine low level maintenance of hard drives. It installs itself with its own DOS compatible operating system onto bootable floppy drives and USB thumb drives. It will safely copy data from sectors to be tested to known good sectors of the drive. Then it will do extreme pattern testing of each sector to determine how reliable it is. Sectors that don't pass the tests are then marked as bad. One really good thing about Spinrite is that it rewrites every bit on the hard drive, refreshing the magnetic signals encoded on the drive. This is especially good, because very important sectors such as the partition table very rarely get written to causing the signals to fade over time.
I am serious, and don't call me Shirley.
Well the one that failed was a 15,000 rpm drive.
I have always found that a sledge hammer works adequately.
Ya gotta use the right tools.
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