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Author: Subject: The best way to physically destroy an hard disk
gdflp
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[*] posted on 14-7-2014 at 20:36


Filling the case of the hard drive with solid sodium hydroxide, then throwing it into a furnace will hit two points, reaching the Curie temp, and then dissolving most of the components.
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chornedsnorkack
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[*] posted on 14-7-2014 at 21:59


If you have the time, then one logical way for physical destruction is sandblasting.

The hard disc is about 1 mm thick platter of aluminum, glass or ceramic covered with a multilayer less than 1000 nm thick. You do not need to destroy the thickness of the platter by heat or chemically if you can destroy the thin multilayer. If you destroy it by sandblasting or sandpaper, cutting the surface layer into pieces micrometres across, good luck putting the dust back together.

What is the information-carrying surface multilayer, chemically? Could you dissolve it without wasting your reagents on the underlying platter?
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WGTR
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[*] posted on 15-7-2014 at 15:19


I hope the OP is thinking about hard drive destruction purely for purposes of amusement. Generally speaking, if you're at a point in your life where you need to destroy a drive on a moment's notice, you probably need to reanalyze your life's ambitions. Are your hobbies conducive to living a life in the "free world", or do you hope to one day end up on the six o'clock news?

There are a whole host of issues that I won't detail here, but suffice to say that without a lot of testing, any system that you design can't be trusted. That's just life in the engineering world. It may work when you don't want it to, or not work when you really need it.

Have fun.
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[*] posted on 15-7-2014 at 17:23


Why is this still in Chemistry in general? Can someone please move it to Misc or whimsy?



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Motherload
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[*] posted on 15-7-2014 at 18:19


Extract the Cobalt, Platinum and Ruthenium from the nano particle magnetic layer.
This will take care of the erasing part.
The high RPM platter motor is fun to play with and so are the NIB magnets.
The Mg-Al housing can be ground down to powder and used to make flashpowder etc or thermite for the next drive ...


[Edited on 16-7-2014 by Motherload]




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[*] posted on 15-7-2014 at 18:45


Oxyacetylene torch... make sure to destroy the board also, I think oxyacetylene will take care of everything... mmmm.... oxidizing flame....



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[*] posted on 16-7-2014 at 04:28


Get a (big?) capacitor bank and a coil and when you need it blast the HDDs with an EMP
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chornedsnorkack
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[*] posted on 17-7-2014 at 07:43


Quote: Originally posted by Motherload  
Extract the Cobalt, Platinum and Ruthenium from the nano particle magnetic layer.
This will take care of the erasing part.

What chemical would efficiently extract these cobalt, platinum and ruthenium?
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gdflp
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[*] posted on 17-7-2014 at 15:53


Aqua regia will easily dissolve the platinum and cobalt, then a soak in sodium hypochlorite will attack the ruthenium.
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[*] posted on 18-7-2014 at 04:33


Quote: Originally posted by gdflp  
Aqua regia will easily dissolve the platinum and cobalt, then a soak in sodium hypochlorite will attack the ruthenium.


If the underlying platter is aluminum, it also dissolves in (and expends) aqua regia.
If it is glass then the metal layer might be washed off by aqua regia - if accessible. But what is the multilayer structure? Is platinum accessible to aqua regia, or protected from aqua regia attack by ruthenium?
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[*] posted on 18-7-2014 at 12:24


Grind it to dust. Hard drive? What hard drive?

If you like, you can use the resultant metal dust to produce thermite. Hah! Try to recover information from a puddle of iron, and some mixed metal oxides.

http://www.harborfreight.com/8-inch-bench-grinder-39798.html
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[*] posted on 19-7-2014 at 03:53


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh9Ossuae_Y
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[*] posted on 19-7-2014 at 04:38


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAl28d6tbko



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[*] posted on 19-7-2014 at 05:14


Quote: Originally posted by Bonee  
Get a (big?) capacitor bank and a coil and when you need it blast the HDDs with an EMP


I have seen in movies where the hard drive is effectively destroyed by just exposing it to a big magnet in a hand held bag.

A chemical attack of the Iron (with simply bleach, NaClO, salt and vinegar forming HOCl in an electrolyte with Fe, creating a so called bleach battery, which is a variation of the metal-air galvanic cell) may not be as effective, but a cheap slow chemistry based path.

On the other hand, creating a similar galvanic cell with Fe and Cu (or Pb) where there is a good flow of electrons through the Fe electrode (aka, your old hard drive) may really mess up any stored data. In other words, recycle your hard drive as part of your new home made over sized car battery for backup or connected to a solar panel.

[Edited on 19-7-2014 by AJKOER]
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[*] posted on 19-7-2014 at 07:13


Quote: Originally posted by chornedsnorkack  
Quote: Originally posted by gdflp  
Aqua regia will easily dissolve the platinum and cobalt, then a soak in sodium hypochlorite will attack the ruthenium.


If the underlying platter is aluminum, it also dissolves in (and expends) aqua regia.
If it is glass then the metal layer might be washed off by aqua regia - if accessible. But what is the multilayer structure? Is platinum accessible to aqua regia, or protected from aqua regia attack by ruthenium?

First dissolve the aluminum in HCl (aq) or some other acid, inert to platinum and ruthenium.
Then add aqua regia, and extract the platinum. And NaOCl to extract the ruthenium.
Although I'm not sure, I doubt that the Ru will protect the Pt, are they even in the same place?




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[*] posted on 19-7-2014 at 14:26


Wrap a coil of insulated wire around the drive. Then, attach the wire to a very large capacitor bank. The sudden pulse of EMF should destroy the info on the disk.
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 01:42


Quote: Originally posted by AJKOER  
Quote: Originally posted by Bonee  
Get a (big?) capacitor bank and a coil and when you need it blast the HDDs with an EMP


I have seen in movies where the hard drive is effectively destroyed by just exposing it to a big magnet in a hand held bag.

[Edited on 19-7-2014 by AJKOER]

I have seen lots of things in movies that don't happen in real life.
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 06:38




[Edited on 20-7-2014 by Fenir]
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Hennig Brand
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 08:16


Just put a large drill bit in your cordless drill or drill press and drill a large hole (off center) through the whole thing, case and all. I am not an expert on this topic, but I was at a computer repair shop a while back where they destroyed many hard drives this way before discarding. It is a very simply and quick procedure to perform and when asked the technicians said it was quite effective. Not sure if it would still be possible to get information off one of these drilled disks if someone was determined enough and had a lot of resources though.

Oh right, this is a chemistry forum. Ok, 10g of plastic explosive ought to do the trick. :D


[Edited on 20-7-2014 by Hennig Brand]




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chornedsnorkack
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 11:58


Quote: Originally posted by Hennig Brand  


Oh right, this is a chemistry forum. Ok, 10g of plastic explosive ought to do the trick. :D

Um, where is the chemistry in that?

So, what chemical treatment would recover the platinum and ruthenium in the hard disc? (obviously dissolving them would destroy the information as well).
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papaya
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 12:55


Sorry, but this thread is silly and gets irritating to me (seeing it always on top), why you need to destroy hdd at all ? Ah, mid school fellow feels big about security... don't answer!
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Hennig Brand
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[*] posted on 20-7-2014 at 16:51


My comment about the plastic explosives may not have been the best form of humor, but it seemed like a fun way to get rid of a hard drive. Unless you have access to the commercial explosives supply lines then of course there is chemistry involved though yes. I think it is a very common thing for many non-criminals to want to have their old hard drives destroyed and there are many good reasons for it. I don't see it as a bad thread, but it would probably fit better on a computer forum or somewhere else.



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[*] posted on 21-7-2014 at 00:25


Quote: Originally posted by Hennig Brand  
My comment about the plastic explosives may not have been the best form of humor, but it seemed like a fun way to get rid of a hard drive.

Fun, but how effective is it for fragmenting the whole disc finely enough, away from the epicentre?
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Hennig Brand
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[*] posted on 21-7-2014 at 07:56


Have a look at these pictures which show 14g being tested on a piece of structural steel. Yeah, I think a hard drive will be generally unusable after that kind of treatment.
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=17695&...

If you are really paranoid though and feel that the government is willing to spend a huge amount of resources getting the secrets off your hard drive I suggest taking the hard drive apart and taking a sandblaster or grinder to the platter(s).

I wonder what drilling a hole in the casing and pouring some concentrated sulfuric acid in there would do for us?




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[*] posted on 21-7-2014 at 12:02


The best suggestion is to use an SD card which is relatively easy to destroy with simple cooking. Otherwise disassemble it and throw it
in a bath of molten sodium hydroxide.
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