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Thread: How to wipe old 3.5" SATA hard drives?

  1. #1
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    Default ? How to wipe old 3.5" SATA hard drives?

    Hi everyone,

    I've been cleaning out years of excess hardware and have abandoned some external drive systems. My question is, how do I wipe the data from 3.5" SATA drives that I am no longer using? Some of these drives do not mount so I can not do a security wipe of the data.

    I've tried taking a hammer to the drives, and that doesn't do much to damage them. I've also tried to dismantle them with no success. I worked as a professional photographer and don't want anyone to be able to find an old drive of mine and steal, or even view, images.

    I have quite a stack of these old drives now and want to be sure the data is not accessible before I let them out of my possession.

    Thanks!!!
    MsNikon
    Last edited by MsNikon; 11-10-2015 at 02:30 PM. Reason: Just wanted to add a "?" to Title for clarity

  2. #2
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    Do you have access to a steam roller or a jack hammer?? They do build them pretty well. I haven't done it in some time now, but you can take them apart. But it's not all that easy, as I recall. There are magnets, commercial grade. Really powerful ones that you have to take care not to get between two of them as when they smack together, you could really hurt yourself. They should affect the data so it's useless, it's just finding them. How about a battery acid dip?

    I understand the issue, I just don't have any really useful ideas. I've got a few myself, that are in a closet awaiting their demise. Hopefully someone will have better ideas than mine. Of course if you've never driven a steam roller . . . it could be fun.

    Good luck!

    Steam Roller, says something about my age doesn't it?

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    Wink

    Great suggestions!!! Sadly, I don't have access to a steam roller, jack hammer or commercial grade drill :-)

    An acid bath is a bit too dangerous, but I would be willing to put the drives in a bleach bath (or something less dangerous than acid) and leave it on my patio for a few weeks/months if that would erase the data.

    I've taken apart one 3.5" drive with a small screw driver and a hammer. It was a lot of work and I injured myself a few times along the way, so can't use that process anymore. Plus, we had a garage in which I could bang away without noise concerns. Not so nowadays.

    Hopefully someone will be able to solve this for both of us!

    Cheers!

  4. #4
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    I've just watched a couple videos on how to recover info from a 3.5" drive. Also viewed a website which does a teardown of a drive.

    I think I can rather easily take apart a 3.5" drive if I can get the back plate (lid) off. One thing in particular I learned - which I did not know last time I disassembled a hard drive - is there are 2 (perhaps more/less) screws hidden by the manufacture's label on the back plate (lid) of the hard drive. Knowing that will make it much easier to remove the back plate, if I have the right screw driver.

    I've tried every screw drive I have, including a number of speciality ones for camera body work, but I don't have the correct screw driver to remove the screws on the back plate (lid) of a 3.5" hard drive.

    Can anyone tell me the name of the particular screw driver I need to open the screws on the back of a 3.5" Sata drive? Rick, do you guys sell these screw drivers?

    Having viewed recovery videos, I think this time it will be easier for me to take a drive apart and get to the platter. Then comes how to destroy data on the platter...but that is step #2 and I don't mind keeping a number of platters around forever as opposed to keeping a number of 3.5" drives around because I can't destroy the data.

    Thanks!
    MsNikon

  5. #5
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    Is it a star shaped screw? http://www.homedepot.com/p/GRK-Faste...9730/203525326 If you check out the package on this link, that is a star head screw. There might be one other type they use.

    Once you get the drive open then you still have the disks. They look like small frisbees. Made of metal and seems they are very hard = difficult to break, won't bend. This is were magnets come in, I've heard they change the magnetic material, on the disks, that stores the data, that Jack built.

    Take the drive down to HD and have them find you the right screwdriver.

  6. #6
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    Personally I'd take a 1/2 inch drill bit and punch a couple holes in the platters, especially near the outer edge. guaranteed to make it a waste of time to try and recover partial data files.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  7. #7
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    10mm makes nice holes.

    Seriously though, if it just keeping prying out out.....not the FBI/IRS/NSA/Chinese hackers:

    You can quickly bust the circuit board, or even just the power and data tab off. Done.

    Sure, if someone wanted to reconstruct the drive, with the right board, firmware, etc. they could. But that takes mad skills, and 99.9% of the population (i just made that number up) can't do it. Very savvy types could hypothetically locate the right board with the right firmware, and do it. One could send the HD to a pro shop like Drive Savers to do it...but it would cost at least $1000.

    Still plenty good to keep prying eyes out for most folks.
    "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

  8. #8
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    I like your bath idea.

    Keep it simple and natural: small hole, salt water soak. Salt water is crazy corrosive on all things tech.
    "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

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    You guys are brilliant! The years of photos - professional and hobby - are very important to me and I want to be sure the data is really destroyed before I dispose of the drives.

    Here's the plan:
    1) I am going to take a drive to Home Depot and get them to help me find the right screwdriver.
    2) I'll take my drives apart (which I can now do easily thanks to the correct screwdriver and the dismantle site I found).
    3) I'm going to quickly bust each circuit board.
    4) I'll take a 1/2 inch drill bit and punch a couple holes in the platters, especially near the outer edge. If I don't have a 1/2 inch drill bit, I'll use a 10mm one.
    5) And to really finish the drives off, I'll soak the platters in a crazy, corrosive, salt water bath.

    I call it The MacGurus Recipe for disposing of data on old and unwanted 3.5" SATA drives

    Thanks so much for your help!!!
    MsNikon

  10. #10
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    Don't bother with the screwdriver. The cover is thin, drill right through it.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the info Rick, a drill is more immediate than a trip to Home Depot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MsNikon View Post

    I've tried taking a hammer to the drives, and that doesn't do much to damage them.
    You need a bigger hammer. Seriously a good hit right on the platters will render them FUBAR.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Brane View Post
    You need a bigger hammer. Seriously a good hit right on the platters will render them FUBAR.
    No kidding!

    Kinetic energy can resolve all kinds of minor tasks.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Brane View Post
    You need a bigger hammer. Seriously a good hit right on the platters will render them FUBAR.
    hmmm it's a pretty big hammer and is very strong. It was owned by my grandfather who fought in the 1st world war and would be 115 years old now. When he signed up, in order to be accepted into the military, he added a couple of years to his age...just a note of remembrance on Veterans day (USA) and Remembrance Day (Canada).

    Perhaps stronger arms and a stronger swing would do it though

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricks View Post
    No kidding!

    Kinetic energy can resolve all kinds of minor tasks.

    I believe the proper term is 'Percussive Maintenance'


    If you have a place near you that does (licensed/bonded) secure document destruction they might also do drive destruction or know who does.
    Damien,

  16. #16
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    If a hammer don't do it, a drill and a salt water bath would just flat be like a cat crapping on your fresh clean lace table cloth right before Thanksgiving dinner Any intention of avoiding the cat topic at dinner would be futile. And it just wouldn't matter all that much the content of the food dishes.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damien View Post
    I believe the proper term is 'Percussive Maintenance'


    If you have a place near you that does (licensed/bonded) secure document destruction they might also do drive destruction or know who does.

    Hi Damien,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not so big on trusting other people to do things like this for me. If I do it myself, I know the files are safely and properly deleted/destroyed. Similarly, until any and all means of self-storage become extinct, I won't use or trust cloud services either.


    Rick, more sage advice...thanks!

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