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Does scratching a hard drive destroy it?

What is the Best Way to Destroy a Hard Drive in Toronto?

From financial records and personal photos to search history and documents, the hard drive inside your computer contains a large amount of confidential data. Before donating or recycling old PCs and laptops, it’s very important to remove the hard drive and completely destroy it; otherwise, cybercriminals, hackers and identity thieves can recover and misuse your sensitive data. Simply wiping out the equipment with a program or overwriting old files isn’t enough to protect your organization’s information security.

The Best Way to Destroy a Hard Drive

The most effective way to destroy the electronic data on your hard drive is through the process of hard drive shredding. This type of destruction method physically destroys the hard drive using a heavy-duty shredding machine that is specifically built for electronic media. It works by completely grinding up and destroying every single part of a hard drive into small shards, rendering all sections and tracts unreadable.

With this form of shredding, you’ll have absolute confidence that any private data on the hard drive can never be recovered or stolen. It also ensures your organization remains compliant with government privacy laws and avoids hefty fines for improper disposal.

Other (Less Effective) Hard Drive Destruction Methods

A quick search of the internet will reveal many resourceful solutions for destroying an old hard drive, but not all methods are created equal. Some can be noisy, messy and dangerous, while many DIY techniques will leave parts of the drive menu intact, making your personal information easy to recover and highly vulnerable to theft.

Here are some commonly used methods that you should reconsider:

Hammer

Hard drives are made from materials, such as glass, ceramic or aluminum, which are coated with a thin layer of metal. These platters will easily shatter when hit with a hammer to render the device unusable. However, there is a strong chance that the hard drive’s data can be completely reconstructed, even when smashed with a hammer.

Drill or Screwdriver

A high-power drill, a drill press or a screwdriver and screws can put holes into the casing and platter of a hard drive. However, it is possible to break the drill bit or get injured from pieces of flying glass, metal or ceramic. The risk isn’t worth the reward since it is possible to retrieve erased data on a computer hard drive after the components have been physically destroyed by drilling.

Fire

Fire will destroy a hard drive by melting the platter material inside, but it’s not a reliable form of destruction. Burning a device with a blow torch or incinerator will release toxic fumes into the atmosphere, which could be harmful to your health. A standard blow torch may also not generate enough heat to destroy the hard drive’s components, leaving your personal information at risk.

Force

Before donating or recycling an old computer, you might consider running it over with a vehicle or destroying a laptop hard drive using a hydraulic press. However, this technique isn’t the best way to destroy the platters since it doesn’t fully crush the drive into small, unreadable pieces.

Acid

Acid will destroy a hard drive by dissolving the disk’s motor and casing and it will strip the data from the platters. However, acid is extremely corrosive and can burn your skin and contaminate soil when being disposed of. There are also no guarantees that it will permanently remove, erase or wipe out information so it can never be restored.

Scratching

You might be tempted to use screws or sharp objects to scratch the platters of a hard drive, but this method won’t fully erase the data or destroy the drives. With the right tools and computer knowledge, scratched hard drives are still very much recoverable, putting your information security at risk.

Magnets

Degaussing a hard drive by placing a magnet on the platters can remove or corrupt data, but you’ll need an extremely powerful magnet for it to be effective. Even if the hard drive appears to no longer work, that doesn’t mean that the data has been erased. It could be recovered using a data retrieval program by cybercriminals or identity thieves.

Water

Wiping out a hard drive by submerging it in water could cause the electronics within the device to short out, but it won’t remove or make the stored data disappear. Once the hard drive dries out, the information contained within the platters can be retrieved and used to steal your identity.

Securely Destroy Your Hard Drive Devices with Blue-Pencil

You can rest assured knowing that your electronic media is securely shredded and properly disposed of with Blue-Pencil’s on-site, high-speed hard drive shredding services. Our state-of-the-art, professional-grade equipment uses cross-cut shredders, which instantly destroy a hard drive to 5/8-inch pieces to make data recovery 100% impossible. This method is also in accordance with NAID AAA certification regulations.

Once your service is complete, your company will receive an official Certificate of Destruction with a scanned serial number for each hard drive that was destroyed. All shredded hard drive material will then be sent to a facility for separation and environmental disposal. You’ll never have to worry about your computer hard drives and confidential data ending up in the landfill or the wrong hands.

To learn more about our on-site hard drive destruction service, please contact our customer service team at Blue-Pencil for a free quote.

Secure Hard Drive Disposal: How to Deal with a Useless Disk [MiniTool Tips]

This post from MiniTool Partition Wizard introduces some methods for hard drive disposal. If you are thinking about how to deal with your old hard drive, you can choose one of them to have a try.

Why Do You Need Hard Drive Disposal?

Nowadays, digital data is becoming more and more common to see, and a lot of people use hard drives during their daily life. Digital data is convenient to use, but you might encounter information leakage sometimes, especially when you plan to throw away an old computer or hard drive.

As you use a hard drive day after day, its performance might degrade and it would run out of space. To solve the problem, you can replace the old hard drive with a new and larger one.

After installing a new hard drive, the old hard drive disposal becomes a problem.

How to dispose of an old hard drive? Usually, people might reutilize, sell, or throw away the hard drive. If you don’t keep it in your hand, you’d better destroy the data on the hard drive to protect your privacy.

If you just delete files or partitions simply, people who get the hard drive will have the chance to recover them and access your pictures, documents, music, and videos. Even worse, they might copy your old files, view your trade secrets, or steal your bank account information.

For more detailed information about secure hard drive disposal, please go to the next part.

How to Do Secure Hard Drive Disposal

How to dispose of old hard drives securely? It depends on whether you want to continue to use this drive. And there are three options for different cases.

If you want to sell or donate it, you can erase its data with a professional third-party program. If you don’t want to continue to use it, you can just destroy it with a hammer, or send it to professional hard drive disposal services.

Now, let’s see these options one by one, and you can choose the one you prefer according to your needs.

Option 1: Erase Data and Sell the Drive

If you want to sell, donate, or recycle the hard drive, you should erase data on it first. If you have cloned the old disk to a new hard drive, it’s OK to erase data directly. Otherwise, you need to back up data before that.

Tip: If the old hard drive still works properly, it’s a good idea to use it to store your files as an additional or external disk. To delete the useless data on the drive, you can format the drive, or delete all the partitions and then create new partitions for better management.

To erase data, you need a reliable third-party program. Here I recommend MiniTool Partition Wizard. It is a professional disk management tool that can be used to create, format, hide, and delete partitions, and so on. It is available on Windows computers and supports many types of hard drives, including SATA, SCSI, etc.

To erase data with MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can refer to the following steps.

Step 1: Connect the old disk to your computer via a USB adapter.

Step 2: Download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard on your Windows computer.

Step 3: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to get its main interface. Then right-click the old hard drive and select Wipe disk.

click Wipe Disk

Step 4: In the pop-up window, select a wiping method according to your needs. Then click OK to confirm the operation. The longer the wiping process takes, the harder the data can be recovered.

select a wiping method

Step 5: When you go back to the main interface, click the Apply button at the bottom left corner to start the wiping process.

Wait patiently during the process. After that, you can dispose of the drive as your needs without any worries.

As we all know, there are many advantages to destroy data via a professional program. For example:

  • Instead of sending the drive to a third party for hard drive disposal, you can erase data by yourself to reduce the risk of data leakage.
  • You can wipe the hard drive free or at a low cost.
  • The hard drive can be donated or sold out instead of being sent to a landfill.

Option 2: Damage the Hard Drive Physically with a Hammer

If your old hard drive fails or is at a low price, you can damage it physically. How to destroy a hard drive physically? Let’s check it now.

Hard disk drives usually have four core parts: platters, spindle, read/write head, and actuator, as you can see in the following picture.

hard disk drive

Data is stored on the platters which are made out of aluminum, glass, or ceramic and coated with magnetic material. You can just remove the hard drive and use a hammer to repeatedly strike the hard drive on various sides until it’s broken.

But to ensure that it’s totally destroyed, you’d better take these platters out, scratch the surface of them, and then broke them into tiny pieces. To achieve the goal, you need to prepare the following tools:

  • A Torx screwdriver and a flathead screwdriver
  • Gloves and googles
  • A hammer

Now, you can follow the steps below to dispose of your old hard drive.

Step 1: Disconnect the hard drive from your computer. Then wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself from getting hurt during the destroying process, as bits of glass or metal might fly all over.

Step 2: Remove screws on the case of your hard drive. Depending on your hard drive’s model, you might need to loosen a variety of Torx screws. Most hard drives have a Torx screw under the paper label. You can feel around with your finger to find it.

Step 3: Remove the case. You might need to open the case with a flathead screwdriver. If you can’t open it, check if there are additional screws on the case.

Step 4: You can see the platters after removing the case. The numbers of platters vary from model to model. Just remove them all as well as the actuator arm. There are some Torx screws on the spindle and you need to loosen them.

Step 5: To destroy data on your hard drive, use a flathead screwdriver to scratch the surface of each platter (both sides).

Step 6: Put the platters into a cloth bag and then use a hammer to smash them until they are broken into thousands of tiny pieces. After that, put these pieces into multiple bags and dispose of them separately. In this way, they will be unable to be pieced back together.

Warning: If the pieces are too large, data might still be recovered.

This option is not a good one for hard drive disposal if you need to destroy lots of business hard drives. By the way, destroyed hard drives end up in landfills, which can bring adverse environmental impact.

Option 3: Go to Professional Hard Drive Disposal Services

Professional hard drive disposal services use a series of methods and techniques to destroy data. Sometimes a combination of two or more methods is used together for secure hard drive disposal. Now, let’s see these hard drive disposal services.

Degaussing

Degausser

A hard disk drive stores and retrieves digital data using magnetic storage and rotating platters coated with magnetic material. Only if the magnetic fields are in their precise order, a hard disk drive can keep data on it.

A proper degausser can destroy the entire magnetic structure by generating an intense magnetic field. Once you degauss a hard disk drive, it can no longer be used to store data. Of course, the original data on it would be inaccessible. A degausser also works for any other type of magnetic data storage such as a key tape, a floppy disk, or a magnetic tape.

You need to pay attention that, ordinary magnets are not able to degauss a hard drive. The magnetic intensity of a degausser should be two or three times more powerful than that of a hard drive.

Therefore, to degauss a hard drive, you need to ask a professional hard drive disposal service that provides degaussing for help. Hard drive degaussing companies usually provide environmentally responsible disposal and you don’t need to worry about electronic waste.

Please note that degaussing can’t destroy data on USB drives and SSDs, as they don’t depend on the magnetic structure to store data. Instead, they are based on flash memory and semiconductor chips. If you want to prevent others from accessing the data on your SSD, you need to try other methods.

For more differences between SSD and HDD, you can refer to this post: SSD VS HDD.

Hard Drive Shredding

Hard drive shredding is a common hard drive disposal method. It uses a specially built device to break hard drives into smaller parts physically.

Quality hard drive disposal services have high-security hard drive shredders or disintegrators. When you choose a hard drive shredding company, you need to consider whether they follow industry standards and whether they provide you with security at all times. And after the shredding, you should receive a certificate of destruction.

For the price, you can contact such a company and request a quote.

Disintegration

Compared with hard drive shredding, disintegration breaks hard drives into smaller parts. If you need to destroy highly classified information, disintegration is usually better than hard drive shredding.

Melting

Melting hard drives is to destroy the platters and housing of hard drives with hydrochloric and nitric acids. However, both acids are dangerous to the environment and human skin. Although it is one of the most effective hard drive disposal methods, it is not recommended.

Bottom Line

There are many ways for hard drive disposal. If you want to reuse your hard drive, you can wipe the disk without any physical damage. If it is useless, you can destroy it physically so that nobody can access your files.

If you have other ideas, you can share them with us in the following comment zone. And for any problems with MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can contact us via [email protected] .

Hard Drive Disposal FAQ

Can deleted data be recovered?

Yes. Usually, you can find your deleted files in Recycle Bin. For the permanently deleted files, they are still recoverable as long as they are not overwritten. To recover permanently deleted files, you can try a powerful and reliable data recovery program.

Can hard drives be destroyed by placing them in the water?

The water can short circuit the electrical components of hard drives. However, the data stored on it might still be accessible after wiping the water off. If you don’t know how to destroy a hard drive, you’d better try the methods listed in this post.

Are hard drives toxic?

No, hard drives are not toxic. But hard drives may give off toxic fumes if you burn them. If you are planning to destroy a hard drive, be careful of the platters and magnets from the drive. They could cut your fingers.

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About The Author

Sherry has been a staff editor of MiniTool for a year. She has received rigorous training about computer and digital data in company. Her articles focus on solutions to various problems that many Windows users might encounter and she is excellent at disk partitioning.

She has a wide range of hobbies, including listening to music, playing video games, roller skating, reading, and so on. By the way, she is patient and serious.

The Best Way to Destroy Hard Drive Data Permanently in Windows 10 [Partition Magic]

Do you know how to destroy hard drive data permanently? This article will show you how to destroy data on hard drive with a professional hard drive wipe tool when you want to dispose your hard drive.

Based on a basic privacy survey of the New York Times, many users have a common misconception in the aspect of clearing hard disk data. The vast majority of people don’t know it is not enough to only delete the files, because it does not really completely remove all data from computer.

The survey also finds another point, in one word, in fact, only 33% of second-hand disks data is erased. Therefore, before you throw away your disk or sell the disk to others, the best thing is to ensure whether there is still privacy or personal information on the hard disk or not. If you want to destroy hard drive in Windows 10, then this article can help you.

Why Do You Need to Clean Hard Drive in Windows 10

It is possible that when there is something wrong with your hard drive, you decide to replace your old drive, or plan to sell the old computer to others for some money. Or you want to donate some old computers to a charitable organization.

In these cases, it is quite important for you to make sure all data of hard drives on the computers are completely erased in Windows 10. Otherwise, if your computers go through the hands of some malicious persons, the data on the hard drive can be used to do some illegal things.

Consequently, it is really necessary to completely remove data on hard drive before selling, replacing or donating old computers. Otherwise, criminals may use the hard drive where you have saved many kinds of files, including pictures, videos, work documents and other personal information to gain benefits from others.

How to Destroy Hard Drive Data in Windows 10

Well, how to destroy hard drive data permanently? When it comes to this topic, actually many of you don’t know how to perform this task. While searching hard drive eraser on the internet, there will be many articles or forums in the searching results.

Before You Do

Before you destroy data on hard drive in Windows 10, there is a very important thing: that is to make a backup for your important files if you still need the data on the hard drive. When reading here, most of you may choose to copy each file to a new hard drive, but this is a bit time-consuming.

In order to backup all data on the hard drive for data security, it is suggested to copy the entire disk on your old computer with the professional disk cloning software – MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition. If you don’t know how to do disk data backup, check out our guide to do disk copy. Click the button as below to get one now!

Solution 1. Delete Files in Windows 10

Usually, when mentioning cleaning data on hard drive, most of you choose to delete all data on the hard drive, but this way can’t completely delete all data, and it is not safe to privacy information. Why?

In fact, the data on your hard drive is not deleted, and the information is stored in the directory that Windows operating system can find. When you delete a file, actually it means only removing the file from the folder, and this part is marked as a location that new data can be written to. In other words, the data in this part is always there, just the operating system marks it «deleted«.

Therefore, before writing new data to the location, the original data can be restored. This provides a good chance to some data recovery software which can directly read the data which is labeled as «deleted» from the hard drive and then recover to the specified directory.

If you choose to delete some unnecessary files on the hard drive manually, you can write new irrelevant data to the location after deleting data, so it is safer to your personal information.

Solution 2.Perform a Full Format to Wipe Hard Drive

Some users also choose to perform a full format to destroy data on hard drive. Here are detailed steps.

Step 1. Right-click the Windows 10 Start menu and select Disk Management to get the main interface of Disk Management.

Step 2. Choose the hard drive you want to format and then right-click it to select Format.

choose format

Step 3. Uncheck the Perform a quick format option to make a full format and then click OK.

check Perform a quick format and click OK

Step 4. Click OK to continue. Then Disk Management will start formatting this drive.

click OK

However, it is not safe enough to simply erase data of hard drive by formatting your disk, as even though you do a full format instead of a quick format, it is still not 100% safe to remove data on hard drive from your computer completely. In this case, you can try the next method.

Solution 3. Wipe Hard Drive in Windows 10

The above ways could not help you erase data permanently and completely, so here I will introduce you the best way to destroy a hard drive: that is to use a professional hard drive wipe tool to wipe disk.

Wiping disk is the safest way for data protection. And this way can be used to erase data completely not only on hard drives, but also on flash drives and other storage devices. Disk wiping process will overwrite the data on the entire hard drive, which can help to erase data permanently and completely.

When searching «how to wipe hard drive» online, you can find there are many tools which can do this work but you don’t know which one is reliable.

Luckily, there is one tool that is highly worth recommending to you. MiniTool Cooperation provides you a reliable and powerful partition and disk eraser software called MiniTool Partition Wizard. It’s an all-in-one partition manager, which can not only help you wipe hard drive free, but also can assist you in hard drive management.

Besides, this tool is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows Vista/XP/7/8/8.1/10 PCs. And this software owns five editions, such as Free Edition, Professional Edition, Server Edition, Enterprise Edition and Technician Edition, just click edition comparison to help choose one.

If you want to wipe hard drive Windows 10, it is suggested to connect the disk to another computer and wipe the disk with MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition. First of all, you need to download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition to another computer.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install it on your computer and launch it to get the main interface.

Step 2. Right-click the hard disk and select Wipe Disk feature from the left action panel.

wipe disk

Note: When wiping disk which contains system partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard will warn you it may cause your computer to be unbootable. If you have migrated system to another hard drive, you can ignore this warning and just click Yes to continue this operation in Windows 10.

Step 3. Then you can see there are five wiping methods. Among these five methods, the first and the second one are very quick for you to finishing erasing data on the hard drive. If you choose DoD 5220.22-M and DoD 5220.28-STD methods, they will take you much time.

But these two methods are safer than other methods, so the possibility of personal information leakage is quite slim. Consequently, please choose one according to your needs. Then click OK to continue.

choose a wiping method and click OK

Step 4. Then you can preview the selected disk will become unallocated. Click Apply to allow the pending operation Windows 10.

click Apply to wipe disk

Tip: Wiping disk will remove every sector of data on the disk. Data once wiped cannot be recovered by any data recovery solutions. Therefore, please think twice to perform this operation. If there are some important files, it is good to make a backup with MiniTool Partition Wizard, just like the above content mentioned.

Step 5. Besides, you can select Wipe Partition feature to erase partitions which contains important personal data. With the help of MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, it is very easy and simple to wipe disk in Windows 10 to avoid privacy information leakage.

wipe partition

Physical Destruction to Hard Drive for Data Protection

The above content tells you three solutions to wipe hard drive completely. Here I will introduce you some ways about physical destruction to a hard drive. If you decide to throw your disk away, in order to protect data and avoid data leakage, you can physically destroy your hard drive.

How to destroy a hard drive? Here are some useful suggestions:

1. Hammer the hard drive

If you are looking for a fastest and most direct way, hammering the hard drive is recommended to you. Please remove your disk from the computer and then use a hammer to knock it into pieces.

2. Burn your disk

You can use fire to melt your hard drive. Please do this operation in a ventilated place, because you may get injured by the fume. Or you can burn the disk in a steel making furnace.

3. Make disk magnetized

Usually, it requires you to use a degausser to magnetize your disk.

4. Dissolve the hard drive by using electrolysis

Please prepare a big plastic container and then immerse the hard drive in water with sodium bicarbonate. Then use the electrolysis unit to dissolve your hard drive.

These methods can help you absolutely destroy your disk physically and you can’t recover data. In these cases, the personal data is unable to be leaked.

Conclusion

This post helps you analyze the reasons about disk clean, then tells you many methods to destroy data on hard drive, including logical and physical destruction to data. I believe this article is useful to help you know well on how to destroy a hard drive.

If you don’t know how to destroy hard drive data permanently or you have any good solution to how to wipe hard drive Windows 10, you can leave a message on the following comment zone and we will reply as soon as possible. If you need any help when using MiniTool software, you may contact us via [email protected] .

Destroy Hard Drive Data FAQ

How to destroy a hard drive?

To destroy all the data stored on a hard drive, you can download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, select the hard drive and choose Wipe Disk to completely wipe the data on the hard drive. To physically destroy a hard drive, you can destroy the magnetic platter inside of the hard drive.

Does removing hard drive remove all data?

If you just remove a hard drive from a PC, this will not remove all the data on it. The hard disk can be read on a different PC. If you want to remove all the data on a hard drive, you can just wipe the hard drive with a hard drive wiper such as MiniTool Partition Wizard.

How do I permanently delete hard drive data?

  1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition and install it to get the main interface.
  2. Select the hard disk that you want to permanently delete the data.
  3. Choose Wipe Disk feature from the left action panel.
  4. Select a wiping method and click OK to wipe it.
  5. Click Apply on the upper right corner to permanently delete the hard drive data immediately.

Does scratching a hard drive make it unreadable?

Scratching a hard drive could make it unreadable. If the platters are scratched to a certain degree and the read/write heads get damaged, it can make a hard drive unreadable. And in this case, the data on the hard drive cannot be recovered with data recovery software. You have to resort to professional data recovery services.

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