How to Destroy a Hard Drive

3 Ways To Safely Destroy Your Hard Drive

If you’re done using an old computer, you may be wondering what to do with the hard drive.  Junk Pros NY knows a thing or two about getting rid of things we no longer want; it’s our job.  So, there are a lot of ways you can approach destroying a hard drive.  There’s also a lot of information you should know about disposing of hard drives and other computer components.  This blog guides you through your hard drive destruction options.  You’ll be a pro hard drive destroyer in no time!  You’ll also know exactly why it’s important to destroy hard drive information, as well as how to dispose of them.

Why Would You Want To Destroy Your Hard Drive?

Did you know that it’s possible to retrieve data from a hard drive even if you’ve deleted everything off your computer?  It’s actually very easy to do.  Hard drives are the secondary storage used in computers to store software, operating systems, installed programs, and files.  The data is stored on platters made of either glass, ceramic, or aluminum.  Data is scratched onto these platters in the form of “0”s and “1”s.

Even after something is gone, there could be remnants of that information still left on the hard drive platter, including personal files, website login information, social security numbers, bank accounts, and other personal information that you may have entered on your computer at one point or another.  To many people, it’s a little uncomfortable to just toss this information out where someone might be able to access it.  To preserve one’s privacy, many people choose to carefully destroy the information on their hard drive before discarding it.

Method 1: Don’t “Destroy” Your Hard Drive in the First Place; Wipe It

One way you can protect your personal information is by using a program to wipe it.  Before doing this, make sure that anything you want to keep from your hard drive has been backed up.  Next, find a program that will wipe the information from your hard drive.  These programs, although effective at protecting your data, don’t actually “wipe” any data from your hard drive.  They overwrite the data with nonsensical data so as it make it just about impossible to recover.  There’s a slim chance that someone out there with a lot of time and resources could still recover this data, but it’s most likely irrecoverable.  Once your data has been turned into a jumbled mess, you can take your hard drive to an electronics waste recycling center where it can be disposed of properly.

Method 2: Destroy The Hard Drive Physically

Another way to make sure no one can get their hands on your data is by physically destroying your hard drive.  There are a number of ways to do this.  Before beginning, it’s important to know what part of the hard drive to destroy.  Take apart your computer by unscrewing as many screws as you can find.  Once you’re able to remove the hard drive, you’ll need to unscrew that as well.  It may difficult to open, but you can pry it open or bang it on a hard surface.  Inside the hard drive, you’ll see a round disk, the platter.  That’s what you want to destroy.

You can be creative with how you do this.  As long as it ends up extremely scratched, dented, and even broken in multiple pieces, then your information will be irretrievable.  You can smash it against a rock, use a hammer, bang it with a screwdriver, and really use anything around you.  Some hard drives, particularly in laptops, are made of glass.  These are easy to simply throw and shatter.  When using any method to physically destroy a hard drive, we recommend wearing eye protection.

Method 3:  Melt The Hard Drive

Another option for destroying your hard drive is melting it.  This is quite the challenge due to the high heat required to melt magnetic properties in hard drive platters.  The heat required to melt your hard drive may vary depending on what materials your specific hard drive is made of.  Some people use acid to completely dissolve their hard drives, while others blow torch it until it has melted down into another shape.  This method may require a bit of research to determine how hot of an environment you will need to create.  If you already have a furnace capable of reaching extreme temperatures, then this would be a fun and effective way to destroy your hard drive!

How To Dispose of Computer Parts

Once you’re done destroying your old data, you can recycle what’s left of your hard drive and other computer component parts.  Recycling these items is very important because many electronics are composed of materials that release toxins into landfills.  This means we need to take the time to dispose of our electronics properly to prevent this occurrence.  Electronic waste, known as E-waste, can be properly recycled at certain locations.  There are many places that collect old electronics, such as Best Buy, which collects electronics and appliances nationwide for recycling and disposal.  Finding a location to properly dispose of your old computer parts is how you can do your part in limiting the number of toxins emitted into the air and ground at landfills.  Destroying a hard drive is just step one. You will still need to sort your computer parts from the rest of your trash.