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.
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.
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.
There are services that can retrieve data from your drive and copy it to other media, but they aren't cheap. Considering the value of the data you have on that drive, and the value of your time to recreate it, it may be worth paying to retrieve the data.
If you do get your data back, make backups, and keep at least one backup offsite. On your hard drive make a separate partition for your data. That way, you don't clobber your data just because you need to restore your system partition. Even better, store your data on a separate physical hard drive. Get an external hard drive for making backups. Get a backup program like Retrospect, that has a good disaster recovery. It has the ability to make full and incremental backups and restore a drive to the way it was at particular dates and times. Also it can store all the incremental backups to the same tape or hard drive as the full backup.
One problem with some backup programs is that if you delete a file, the file will get restored again if a full disk restoration is done. Some backup programs require restoring the full backup and then all the subsequent incremental backups in order to make sure the latest versions of the files are actually restored. This takes a long time, because multiple versions of frequently changed files get written over and over again till finally the latest version is restored.
Retrospect creates an index of all the files, and restores just the latest version of each file. It will also not restore the files that have been deleted. Retrospect can backup multiple computers in one backup session. It is also designed to make just one copy of identical files. If you have several computers with the same operating system version installed, it will make just one copy of the file saving time and media space for the backup. Retrospect can also make emergency boot disks for each coputer that is backed up. In fact it can make the emergency disk even after a drive has died. All that is needed is an an installation disk for the computer's operating system and the key code to install it. Retrospect then makes a bootable CD that contains enough of the Windows operating system to boot your computer, partition a new hard drive, and copy the bare essentials of Windows plus the Retrospect backup/restore program. It then reboots your computer from the new hard drive and starts the restoration of files from the backup device.
The drive is dead. It won't even report its capacity to the SCSI controller. The heads won't read or write. That's why I started this thread.
The same ought to work for you, but I like some of the more creative methods, such as submerging it in red-hot lava or shooting it into the sun...
1.) Send it to Los Alamos, a Chinese spy will take it away for you and you'll never see it again.
2.) Send it to Hillary Clinton with a post-it note stuck on it that states: “Vince Foster's Journal.”
3.) Send it to Obama, again with a post-it note: “Original Birth Certificate.”
4.) Send it to ACORN, so your dead drive can vote for Obama in 2012.
5.) Send it to the EPA, telling them this drive has an enormous carbon footprint.
6.) Send it to Hamas. It will be donated to the Clinton Library fund and then given back to Hamas by Hillary. Hamas will give it to the Clinton Library fund again, where it will be sent back to Hamas by Hillary. This will cause an infinite loop and nobody will have the time to try to read the data.
7.) Stick a squirt gun handle on it and register it as a “semi-automatic assault pistol.” The ATF will be by to collect it soon.
8.) Give it to NASA to put on their next CO2 satellite.
9.) Declare it as “Capital Gains.”
10.) If all else fails: Of course, nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
That's all I can come up with right now.
Please, join the fun!
My computer will allow changes to the boot order in the BIOS setup program that can be run at boot time. I can boot from any of the SCSI devices on the SCSI chain plus the IDE DVD/CD-ROM drive and a USB device. My bad drive is still in the drive bay, and the SCSI controller reports that it can't communicate with the drive every time I boot the computer. Also my old drive makes no sound when normally the drive moves and tests the drive heads during the testing phase. I really ought to take out the old defective drive soon, because it slows down the boot process on my computer.
Thank you so much for the info.
My nephew is coming tomorrow to try to help me out with this, and I’ll share your comments with him.
Yes, from now on I will back up everything!!!
Are you sure they were Feds? I’ve heard the aliens are doing that, too... :-)
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