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Thread: Disposing of old hard drives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Default Disposing of old hard drives

    I have several older IBM Deskstar drives that I've replaced with newer units. A couple were boot drives, and have sensitive info on them. I want to wipe them in the most thorough way before donating to a local computer recycler. I don't plan to re-purpose them for myself, as these are in the series of Deskstars that seem to eventually fry themselves without warning.

    Wondering what are the best methods? Disk Utility, writing zeros (or eight-way overwrite?) I also have Omni Disk Sweeper.

    In the past, I have actually used a large magnet, followed by a hammer to physically destroy the entire mechanism. Sounds kinda paranoid, but it sure was fun!

    But if there's a secure way to erase completely, maybe the drives can be of use to someone else...

    Tom

  2. #2
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    Jan 2002
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    Default

    Among the things you mention (use em all ) I've heard that writing data over and over and erasing again to the drive can help too. But if someone "really" wants the data and has the skills it still might be there. I guess it really depends on who/where they end up. Do they just need a drive or are they hunting for data. - Randy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    Lightbulb

    Target practice. 3.5" drive platters are great!

    But I wouldn't pay someone to take 'em. Though if they have worked this long, they were the 50% that didn't have the faulty parts that led to quick, high, failure rates.

    If the 35-way pass doesn't wipe it, the heat from all that will most likely.

    I prefer the magnet. We had some servo motors that were so strong, wrist watches had to be removed before working inside.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Target practice... Hadn't thought of that, but I like it.

    So it might be that these are OK drives, in spite of their "heritage?" Pretty hard to tell from online postings whether to be worried or not. The model numbers fall within the bad range.

    That said, the drives have worked every day since being installed (probably about three years.) I'd use 'em for backup, but don't want potentially bad backup drives either...

    So what about lifespan on ATA drives? What's a reasonable expectation?

    T

  5. #5
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
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    Default

    Not as much fun, but when we swap out old ATA drives at work (once had a pile of 54.....), we simply take a large screw driver and mangle the ATA data pins.

    No plug in, no get data out!

    If a drive might have sensitive data on it, we take the extra minute to bust the circuit board off the bottom. Yes, still data on the platters....but not worried about anyone sending an unknown drive to Drive Savers and spending a grand or more to find out what might be on it.

    One co-worker guts 'em and uses the platters for clock faces.

    Lifespan of ATA? Varies widely, but a nice round number - as an average - is four years. Alot of variables: how is it treated, how many stops and starts, in a hot enclosure, what make and model, usage patterns, etc. Some models seem to go forever: 5+ years. Some die at 18 months. Never really know which you have....until it does what it is going to do.

    Laptops are almost half that I would guess.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    silicon valley, usa
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    Arrow freaking scary, if you ask me!

    My friend in FBI's computer law enforcement says that software methods (overwriting with 1s, 0s, or random characters) are NOT sufficient for true protection of data. No software program can obfuscate data completely. My friend tells of one child pr0n perp, who tried to overwrite his data 20 times, was convcted because each of the 20 overwrites were slightly mis-aligned from each other, and the FBI got the pics and email addresses off the drive.

    He says the only way to keep people from retrieving data is to destroy the drive platters. Yet in special cases the FBI has restored data from shattered platters.

    YMMV.
    haiku:
    I can't remember
    the last time I restarted
    I love OS X

  7. #7
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    Default

    Target practice is looking better and better...

    T

  8. #8
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    Nov 2004
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    Germany
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    Default

    Hello,

    long time ago a magnet could damage floppy discs make them unreadable.

    http://www.ibas.com/data-erasure

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