Many people are aware that a hard drive needs to be completely erased before disposing of a computer to ensure that no personal information falls into the wrong hands as this could lead to such things as theft and identity fraud. What a lot of people do not know is this information can still be accessed even if the former owner took proper precautions to make sure the drive was wiped clean.
The only way to guarantee that the old hard drive cannot be accessed is physically destroying the metal platter inside of it after backing up all information and performing a factory reset. Below are ways you can do this and in the process protect all of your personal information.
A common way to physically destroy a hard drive is taking a hammer to it because it is fast and effective. Put the hard drive on a surface that can withstand a few blows. With some safety goggles on, hit the drive until you can tell for sure that the platter is broken. The goals of physically destroying a hard drive is ensuring the platter cannot spin in the computer’s casing and shattering it with a hammer will obviously accomplish this.
Do not forget to wear protective eyewear as the platter’s broken pieces can fly up as you hit them and could cause injury.
Drilling through the hard drive is another effective way to ensure it is inaccessible after you dispose of it. Wearing protective eyewear and a mask covering your nose and mouth, take a drill to one side of the drive and drill until you have reached the other side of it. This should allow you to hit the platter and controller board, rendering the hard drive inoperable.
To be sure that the drive is destroyed, drill a few holes through it in different spots to guarantee that you hit the components needed to disable the drive. Usually the drill holes will shatter the platter which will guarantee that none of your information will be recoverable after disposal.
Setting the old hard drive on fire may seem excessive, but it has held important information such as bank information, user names, and passwords. For this reason, you may not want to take any chances. Thermite, a mixture of aluminum and iron oxide, is a popular choice. The high temperatures it creates when set alight melts the platters of the hard drive to the point where all is left is a molten liquid.
Thermite should be used outdoors and in a controlled setting away from children or forestry. Use protective gear such as eyewear and gloves to protect yourself from molten hard drive after it is set on fire. Make sure most of the thermite is sprinkled over the platter as this is the part you want to destroy.
4. Shred or Crush
The safest method to physically destroy an old hard drive is taking it to an electronics recyclers and have them shred or crush the hard drive for you. The hard drive can be placed into a commercial power shredder that breaks it into pieces that can be as small as a matchstick. The hard drive can also be crushed by punching a hole in it with 7500 lbs. of force. This destroys the drive platter and prevents any data from being recoverable.
If you hire a professional company to manage your hard drive destruction, a certificate of destruction is given to the owner confirming that the hard drive has been successfully destroyed. This provide peace of mind knowing that no personal information can be retrieved from it.