The Hard Drive Destruction Process – What the Steps Are and How to DIY

When you go to recycle your computer or take it somewhere to be reused, it is important that you wipe your hard drive clean of personal data before dropping it off. This ensures that your personal information will not fall into the hands of the wrong person who could use it illegally. Other times, it is preferential to destroy your hard drives.

The Hard Drive Destruction Process at Recycling Plants

First, the recycling technicians will separate the hard drive from the computer. While it is being removed, the hard drive’s non data related items such as metals or plastics are separated into smaller parts so that they can be recycled. Typically the hard drive will then be processed with some type of advanced equipment that reduces the drive to particles so small that the data is unrecognizable.

Degausing can be combined with hard drive shredding. It is a magnetic process that is applied to the hard drives that ensures that all of the data will be removed magnetically. Or, the hard drive will be sanitized, where the data is erased and then random data will be recorded over the erased data. This happens many times and in a random order. This results in the wiped data being unreadable.

The Hard Drive Destruction Process at Home

First you want to wipe the data off of your hard drive. The best program is Darik’s Boot and Nuke. Simply boot the CD-ROM, select which wipe method you would like, (there are a variety of options to choose from) and let the program run overnight. Once you have wiped all of the drives, disassemble them with a flat screwdriver, a needle nose plier and TORX bits – these are used to separate the star shaped bolts and screws you seen in electronics.



Remove all of the screws on the top casing of the drive. Next, remove the screws that are around the outside of your drive. Then remove all of the labels and stickers from the drive, and loosen any additional screws that are hiding under the label. Pull out all of the screws – sometimes there’s an additional one beneath the electronics package.

Now its time for the fun part – looking inside the drive. You should be able to pop the top off now, if not check the edges for tape. You can either peel the tape off or cut it off if it is there. Next, remove the top magnet with a screwdriver and pliers. Your next step is to remove the lower magnet. You’ll have to pop the array on top of it, or if you can’t use your pliers to remove it. Next, remove the platters with your TORX bits. Unscrew the cap.

Once you’ve gotten to the platters, use the magnets you removed to do your own degaussing of your hard drive. Run the magnets back and forth over the platters a few times. The magnets are extremely strong, and will wipe any data you have left off. The next step is the best part, and it’s up to you. Now you get to break your hard drive into little pieces. Use a sledgehammer, run it over with a car, it doesn’t matter how you do it, and you can rest easy knowing you properly engaged the hard drive destruction process.

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