Sunday, 4 August 2013

Help! I've got a hard drive.

So you have an old hard drive. There are several reasons why you may have a old hard drive

  • You may have bought a new PC and you are wondering how to safely dispose of the old PC
  • Your old hard drive may be faulty and you have changed it for a new one
  • You may have upgraded the old hard drive for a newer bigger one
What ever the reason what you don't want to do is to just throw out your old hard drive with all your precious data on it.

If you have bought a new PC then you may want to either use the old PC as a secondary PC at home, maybe one for the kids or donate it to a charity for reuse or donate it to a relative. Information on either securely wiping the drive or just wiping your data can be found HERE,  Re using the old equipment as much as you can is the best thing to do, it can save precious resources and stop waste going to landfill or being exported to third world countries.

However sometimes the best thing to do is to get rid of the old equipment, it's either faulty or so old that it is no use to anybody.

I have had people ask my what to do with their old PC tower before taking it to the recycling point. They think that if they smash it with a hammer they will render it useless. They might but they could also leave the hard drive untouched meaning that the data could potentially be recovered from the hard drive easily.

My preferred method is to take the hard drive to pieces. Hard drives contain items that can be useful for the tinkerer. The hard drive disk itself make excellent mirrors that are virtually unbreakable, ideal when working on cars etc. There are a pair of super strong magnets in the hard drive that can be used for magnetic type things, watch out though they can pinch! If you are feeling really geeky you can take out the platter drive motor and have a play with it Like this.

The tools that you will need to take your hard drive apart are few, screwdrivers, Torq drivers and a pair of pliers or cutters to persuade some of the Torq screws that can be a little tight.

The parts from the stripped down hard drive that you don't think will be useful can be recycled. The main body is usually aluminium and the top is steel, you can use the magnet to test. My local recycling center has separate bins for steel, aluminium and electronics so I feel I am doing my bit to help the recycling effort.

You also get a better insight into how your hard drive worked, I can pretty much guarantee that it won't work again after this and that sort of makes your data pretty much irretrievable. If you are still worried you can wipe the drive before taking it to bits.

The time lapse video below shows me taking apart an 80GB 3.5" IDE Seagate drive. 3.5" drives have the biggest magnets. Most 3.5" drive are similar in there construction so come apart in a similar way.

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