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Author Topic: Program to erase harddrives before recycle?  (Read 1248 times)
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« on: June 19, 2010, 05:07:02 PM »

I'm getting rid of some older machines. I'd like to give them to the Goodwill but wonder if there's a way to wipe the harddrives clean.
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2010, 06:08:14 PM »

Eraser ( http://eraser.heidi.ie/ ) is free and is the best at exactly what you want to do.


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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2010, 06:26:27 PM »

Thanks
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2010, 08:40:11 PM »

Dban is what I recommend for this type of thing.

Obligatory warning: destroy the discs when you're done with them... if you leave this sucker laying around, it will, of course, find its way back into your cdrom, and lay in wait for the next time you boot your machine, all unsuspecting.

http://www.dban.org/

Atomic
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2010, 08:59:53 PM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on June 19, 2010, 08:40:11 PM

Dban is what I recommend for this type of thing.

Obligatory warning: destroy the discs when you're done with them... if you leave this sucker laying around, it will, of course, find its way back into your cdrom, and lay in wait for the next time you boot your machine, all unsuspecting.

http://www.dban.org/

Atomic

dban's the way to go.  eraser's better for secure file erase, though I don't know how well either works with ssd's.
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2010, 09:48:21 PM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on June 19, 2010, 08:59:53 PM

dban's the way to go.  eraser's better for secure file erase, though I don't know how well either works with ssd's.

From what I've been told, secure shredding of files on SSDs is a waste of time. Unlike on a regular HD, deleting a file on an SSD leaves it permanently removed.
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2010, 10:12:35 PM »

If you didn't want to use them again then a hammer works best. A sledge hammer.
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2010, 10:25:12 PM »

Quote from: Daehawk on June 19, 2010, 10:12:35 PM

If you didn't want to use them again then a hammer works best. A sledge hammer.

I'd prefer something spiky - that way they can't read the discs via other means (as I don't think a sledgehammer would seriously damage magnetic media). Or just kill it with fire.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2010, 11:04:02 PM »

Disassemble the drives, and run the platters through a bulk eraser, THEN reduce them to technokibble. It's the only way to be sure smile

That is, of course, assuming you don't intend to re-use them.

At this point in time, my opinion on SSD's is, assume you can't securely erase them at this point in time. I don't know for certain either way, whether data can be recovered from an 'erased' cell, or not. More investigation required.

I do love solid-state storage though. Defintiely the way of the future, albeit still a little expensive right now.

Atomic
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2010, 12:38:19 AM »

Ugh, sadly the hard drive I need to trash now has some corruption that won't let it read anything past a certain point.  Looks like it's a complete disassembly and quick work with a magnet for me.

By the way, would immersing a hard drive in water help with destroying it?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 01:19:30 AM by Turtle » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2010, 04:16:29 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on June 20, 2010, 12:38:19 AM

Ugh, sadly the hard drive I need to trash now has some corruption that won't let it read anything past a certain point.  Looks like it's a complete disassembly and quick work with a magnet for me.

By the way, would immersing a hard drive in water help with destroying it?

No, water isn't going to do anything for you. And AFAIK a magnet isn't going to do much either. It may do enough that a standard OS isn't going to read it, but the data won't be 'gone'.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2010, 10:06:32 AM »

Simple disassembly, and physical destruction of the disks, should fulfill your needs, unless you have gestapo stormtroopers following your every move, taking all your trash for personal data, etc. The bulk eraser is really only for if you're truly paranoid that someone is going to come along and reconstruct your data, etc.

As a comparison, I have several hard drives here in the house that, at one point or another, had personal data, pr0n, or both, on them. I wouldn't have a problem with letting dban taking a pass at them, and then sending them on to friends, etc.

If I absolutely KNEW that, say, the men in black were trashing me, looking for data/evidence/etc, then I'd look into physical destruction after the dban pass.

One thing nice about a usb flash drive. A few minutes and a pair of strong pliers, and nobody but nobody, will be reading the data off the chips. Chip crushed into powder is readable by... well.. nothing.

Atomic

PS: Dban could still do the job. It doesn't utilize the filesystem... it destroys everything on the disk, filesystem included... so simple corruption won't stop it. If the disk is physically damaged somehow, you might of course have issues.

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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2010, 10:17:34 AM »

Old hard drives, meet hammer.  Die hard drives... die!

You know, it's actually kind of cathartic to destroy after having to deal with my first catastrophic hard drive failure in 7 years.
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2010, 01:29:58 PM »

I have a 20 lb sledge for work and I knew that would work. I was hoping a church or school could still use them.
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2010, 07:20:45 PM »

Quote from: map on June 20, 2010, 01:29:58 PM

I have a 20 lb sledge for work and I knew that would work. I was hoping a church or school could still use them.

but Hammer Time is so much fun!
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« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2010, 12:24:10 AM »

When you have to swing a 20lb sledge it's amazing how fast Hammer Time becomes not fun. icon_biggrin
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« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2010, 07:16:53 PM »

You may have a local recycling/data destruction place that will shred your HDs (not just the platters...) and then recycle the crumbs for a small fee.  I have a small stack of HDs at home waiting to meet the industrial jaws of death.
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« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2010, 09:10:13 PM »

I didn't think Goodwill took old PCs and TVs any more.  Maybe it's a local/regional decision...
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« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2010, 10:14:34 PM »

You could always try microwaving them. I doubt they'd be able to pull much from it afterwards.
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2010, 12:22:56 AM »

They took an old, old PC a couple of months ago. Things change pretty fast.
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2010, 02:15:43 AM »

Best Buy will recycle most things.  For PCs you must remove the HD.  They charge a small fee for TVs/monitors but give you an equivalent gift card in exchange.
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« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2010, 02:11:41 PM »

I usually have fun with old hard drives. I get out the screwdriver, remove all the casing and covers that I can remove quickly, smack the drive around a good bit with the sledge, and then once I've got the platter itself really good and exposed I put it in our boiler for an afternoon or two. We heat our house with a wood burning boiler, so it's right there to use. Works pretty great. Generally they're so warped, cracked, and melted by the time I bother to drag them out of the boiler they don't really resemble hard drives anymore.

Or as a replacement for the sledgehammer step it's also fun to shoot them with a reasonably high powered rifle. Or 12 gauge shotgun slugs. Those work too Tongue

There's a video somewhere of Kyle Bennett from HardOCP taking an Armalite .50 Cal sniper rifle to a stack of 18 hard drives all duct taped together. The round makes it through 17 of them before sticking in the 18th drive Tongue
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« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2010, 08:16:41 PM »

I ran across this Windows command line trick.

cipher /W:C:\Path\To\Folder
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« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2010, 08:31:30 PM »

Quote from: LoneStarSpur on June 22, 2010, 08:16:41 PM

I ran across this Windows command line trick.

cipher /W:C:\Path\To\Folder

This one doesn't sound very secure. For one thing it doesn't say what it overwrites the data with. Is it random values (and what randomization algorithm is it using?) or just 1 or 0? Does it overwrite the data just once? A file must be overwritten with truly random values at least 5 times to make it virtually impossible to retrieve. Cipher also doesn't seem to overwrite blank space, which could contain just about any type of data. It's hard to say though as the information shown on that page is limited.
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2010, 11:40:41 PM »

More info from Microsoft.
and some more info

Honestly, I haven't looked at it closely. Just happened to run across it today and thought I would throw it out there.
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« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2010, 07:03:12 PM »

SSDs will make this a lot easier.  Issue one command and the drive can be completely erased a seconds to minutes later.
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« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2010, 04:22:12 AM »

i was always fond of disassembling them and keeping the platters around the desk, as a warning to the new ones, if you will. 

i did learn through this that if you smack a platter with a hammer, it will leave pixie dust and potentially dangerous glass dust on your desk. 
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« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2010, 03:05:07 PM »

Quote from: Freezer-TPF- on June 21, 2010, 07:16:53 PM

You may have a local recycling/data destruction place that will shred your HDs (not just the platters...) and then recycle the crumbs for a small fee.  I have a small stack of HDs at home waiting to meet the industrial jaws of death.

Shred that HD--it's the only way to be sure (video).
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« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2010, 03:13:54 PM »

I've had several hard drives physically shredded/destroyed at that same place here in Virginia:
http://www.pcrecycler.net/services/data-destruction/hard-drive-shredding/
They do a residential drop off event one weekend a month. They do charge $10 per hard drive. They let you watch it get shredded, and it's kinda neat to see the pieces rolling up on a conveyor. Most of the rest of their business is with corporations and government agencies.

Now I guess it's technically possible for some Whiz to still extract data off the drives, but it still seems more secure than software solutions.
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