how to destroy hard disk with personal info

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Pajamas
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Pajamas » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:08 am

At least on Apple computers. there is a secure erase function in the disk utility. I run that and then take out the hard drive, remove the actual disc, and bend and mutilate it with an adjustable wrench and a hammer and put it in the metal, plastics, and glass recycling bin before selling the memory and any other valuable parts on eBay and then sending the rest for electronics recycling. If someone wants to try to flatten the disc out and recover any information left on it after that, they have my permission.

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mhc
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby mhc » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:13 am

I put mine in my table vice and then hit it a couple times with my 5 lb hand sledge. Of course I wear goggle because the whole case bends over, breaks open, and the platters shatter. It takes less than a minute to due this. I can't believe anything could be recovered from this.

JW-Retired
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby JW-Retired » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:54 am

I use secure erase software to delete everything on the disk.

But you never know for sure about software. So then I've been following that up by putting the platters in a bench vice and whacking them with a sledge. I'm remembering they were something like aluminum and didn't break, just bent 90 degrees. (Googling says laptop platters are often glass so smashing them is going to be dangerous and not advisable.) Anyway, if they are aluminum maybe it's still theoretically possible to get something from any intact areas left on the bent platter?

So next time I will follow that bending with soaking them with in salt water until they are well corroded like corner559.:beer Might take a long time with aluminum platters.
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bnes
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby bnes » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:05 pm

Screws: they're there, just under labels.
Take it apart, run a magnet over each platter, and toss the mess into a metal recycling bin (with the electronics in e-Waste).
Done. Really done.

mancich
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby mancich » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:09 pm

I douse it in gasoline, put it in a deserted field, then call in an airstrike. Then I drill holes in what is left, run rare earth magnets over it, and then run over it with my wife's SUV.... :D :beer

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby gtd98765 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:12 pm

There are many time-consuming suggestions here. Unless you are a gazillionaire or have a really good reason to think the NSA is willing to devote millions of dollars of time to figure out your finances, I would (in fact do) just hook up such drives temporarily to another computer and run DBAN to wipe them. Then dispose of them at your city's electronics recycling depot. Only a state actor could have a remote possibility to restore scraps of info after DBAN has run. Even if recovery were possible, the chance is minuscule that such an actor would either get lucky enough or devote enough time/money to find the tiny portion of your personal info on a disk in the midst of all the windows programs, temporary files, etc. Remember that movies/TV shows making this look easy are fiction.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby SrGrumpy » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:34 pm

I pilot my helicopter over an active Japanese volcano and toss the whole computer into the crater - as well as old bank statements, incriminating evidence, embarrassing CDs, etc.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby investingdad » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:07 pm

Bury it in your yard.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby SimonJester » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:26 pm

Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase
If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read
Also, you could simply encrypt the drive, and then lose the encryption key


Not according to certain government agencies that research this kind of stuff. Physical destruction (when done properly) trumps multi pass overwrites and encryption.

Perhaps one of these would help out
http://www.datasecurityinc.com/degausser/SSMD-2mm.html
2mm particle size = no recovery of data :D
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby mcblum » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:38 pm

ball peen hammer...

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby adamthesmythe » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:57 pm

SimonJester wrote:
Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase
If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read
Also, you could simply encrypt the drive, and then lose the encryption key


Not according to certain government agencies that research this kind of stuff. Physical destruction (when done properly) trumps multi pass overwrites and encryption.

Perhaps one of these would help out
http://www.datasecurityinc.com/degausser/SSMD-2mm.html
2mm particle size = no recovery of data :D


That product is only for SSD/ flash memory

For HD there is a different destructor

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... isher.html

Use the right tool for the right job!

new2bogle
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby new2bogle » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:11 pm

Is this a serious question for the average user?

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Yooper » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:36 pm

Drill a couple holes through it (just so you can sleep at night). Toss it in your kitchen garbage (along with potato peels, coffee rinds, egg shells). Done. It'll be buried under TONS of other garbage at the landfill. Never heard of the NSA, KGB, etc., or anyone else sifting through the landfills looking for hard drives that might, just MIGHT contain financial info. Perspective is important sometimes.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby SimonJester » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:32 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
SimonJester wrote:
Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase
If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read
Also, you could simply encrypt the drive, and then lose the encryption key


Not according to certain government agencies that research this kind of stuff. Physical destruction (when done properly) trumps multi pass overwrites and encryption.

Perhaps one of these would help out
http://www.datasecurityinc.com/degausser/SSMD-2mm.html
2mm particle size = no recovery of data :D


That product is only for SSD/ flash memory

For HD there is a different destructor

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... isher.html

Use the right tool for the right job!



But that destructor only bends the hard drive, I want lots of little pieces, 2mm in size :D :D .

For now drooping into volcano will have to suffice...


Another issue with the multi wipe overwrite, when you get into the terabyte+ sized drives it can take hundreds of hours to complete. Faster and more enjoyment to physically destroy it...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

objectivefunction
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby objectivefunction » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:51 pm

I doubt many cases (if any) of identity theft result from dumpster diving for drives. That's way too labor intensive when you could just hack into a bank or retailer or buy some CC numbers on the darkweb and get info on millions of people at once.

Wipe it with software, if you can. Smash it with a hammer, if you want some entertainment. Call it done at that.

The only thing to be aware of is that SSDs have to be destroyed differently (both with software and physically) than a spinny disk.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Helo80 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:32 pm

Any COTS program that writes random data or zeroes out the drive is going to do the job. Physical damage may make you feel better, but unless you're a HVT to a nation state, most would not bother spending time/resources looking at your drive (including Russia and China).

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby azurekep » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:53 pm

Yooper wrote: Never heard of the NSA, KGB, etc., or anyone else sifting through the landfills looking for hard drives.


They contract out to Waste Management, Inc to do that.

Geek Squad guys are jealous because the WMI guys get bigger year-end bonuses.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby azurekep » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:00 pm

"Alexa, destroy my hard drive."

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby fisherman2009 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:17 pm

As mentioned before, "possible" and "likely" are rather different things - if someone wants your private data, they aren't going to bother with your old hard drive, they are going to attack your current system - there are a host of easier methods such as spear phishing attacks, unsecured/poorly secured routers, weak passwords, etc. that are much less hassle than dumpster diving for old hard drives. The range of tools available to a hackers these days is beyond scary and they don't need to leave their house to use them. :happy

Cheers,

T

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby mouses » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:56 pm

Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase

If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read


I thought there were ghosts of data. But then again, I'm not a hardware person.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby flamesabers » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:14 pm

mhc wrote:I put mine in my table vice and then hit it a couple times with my 5 lb hand sledge. Of course I wear goggle because the whole case bends over, breaks open, and the platters shatter. It takes less than a minute to due this. I can't believe anything could be recovered from this.


I've done this as well. In addition to the safety goggles, I recommend wearing gloves when picking up the hard drive case after it's been destroyed to avoid getting cut by any jagged pieces from the hard drive case.

I've also open up hard drives with a screwdriver and put the platters in a table vice. It doesn't take long for the vice to crush the platters into multiple pieces.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby whomever » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:26 pm

I thought there were ghosts of data. But then again, I'm not a hardware person.


To expand on my earlier explanation: there are two ways to get data off a disk platter.

One is to read the data in the normal manner, using the read head and associated control circuitry. If you overwrite the disk with anything, even once, the original data can't be recovered this way. This is the cheap way to recover data - it's more or less zero cost if the drive still works, or can cost whatever effort it takes to repair a non working disk where, for example, the drive electronics failed but the platters are in good shape.

The second way is to put the platters, or whatever pieces are left of them, into something called a magnetic force microscope. That measures the actual magnetic force on a very small scale. You get, essentially, a 'topo map' of the magnetic force across the platter, where each bit might be a little 'hill'. In a perfect world, the 'hills' would either be all flat (for a zero, say) or be height 1.0 (on some arbitrary scale) for a one (where I'm using 'height' to mean how strongly that area is magnetized).

It's not a perfect world, though for at least two reasons. One is that when the head 'flips' a bit, it doesn't flip all the particles in the bit. Just to make up some numbers, let's imagine that 70% or the bits are flipped. If a bit had none of it's particles set and the head flips it, the 'height' of the hill would be 0.7. If a one got written again, 70% of the unflipped particles would get set, for a total of 0.7+(0.7*0.3) or 0.91. This means that the current magnetic strength of the bit leaks a little information about what was written there in the recent past.

The second imperfection is that the head can't be perfectly positioned. Each time it writes a bit it might be offset a tiny bit from the previous write for that bit. As long as it mostly overlaps with the previous location you can read it OK, but the STM can see the leftover edge where the most recent write didn't completely overwrite the previous bit.

Both of those anomalies can be exploited to try and reconstruct what was on the disk prior to overwriting it. As you overwrite it multiple times, though, it gets harder and harder to reconstruct what was there several writes ago.

As you might imagine, though, this is a very expensive process.

If the KGB gets hold of a disk with the ICBM disable codes that was only overwritten once, they will no doubt have at it, and quite possibly succeed. OTOH, a hacker looking for credit cards isn't going to go to that much trouble (if they had that kind of resources, they wouldn't need to be stealing credit card numbers!), so a single overwrite is likely fine for ordinary folks.

Of course, there's no harm in multiple overwrites, either.

p.s. Do note that merely erasing files is not the same as overwriting. Operating systems normally 'erase' files just by forgetting where they are on disk, not actually overwriting the actual contents

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magellan
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby magellan » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:09 pm

Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase

If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read

This may work a lot of the time, but it's simply impossible to 0 out every bit on a disk drive.

Disk drives ship with unmapped extra physical space that's used to replace bad spots that develop on the drive over time. The way this works is that the drive maintains a mapping of externally addressable logical disk sectors to internally addressable physical disk sectors. When the drive does too many retries reading from or writing to a specific spot, its controller will automatically remap the logical sector to use a new physical spot on the drive. The old data is left behind on the now inaccessible old spot where the logical sector was previously mapped. Once a sector is remapped, it's nearly impossible to access the physical place on the disk that the sector previously occupied except with specialized recovery tools. Those no longer accessible remapped sectors can still contain sensitive data.
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby stereotaxis » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:31 pm

Just duplicate a song or movie on the drive until it overwrites the entire hard drive. Use little junk texts or pdf files to fill the remainder of the empty space. Problem solved.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby jdb » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:01 pm

This is such an exciting thread. We have over 25 years of hard drives in an extra closet on shelves, never got around to getting rid of them, always thought could be historical artifacts, but since we have been in same house for over 30 years and I didn't like Marie Kondo book not the only stuff we have accumulated. It has been on my to do list for years but now realize I have all the tools, sledgehammer, drill with metal bits, goggles, even blowtorch. So much fun to look forward to. Thanks everyone.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby dratkinson » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:02 pm

I use a hand-held Magnetic Tape Eraser. Think I bought it from Radio Shack a few decades back. Can't remember why.

Used on a HDD, the HDD will vibrate against the MTE. As HDD cases seem to aluminum or plastic, then it must be something ferrous inside that's vibrating. Have never tried to access the HDD afterwards, just assumed it was deleted. Don't know if a HDD can be used afterwards, but suspect not.

Back in the floppy disks days, if I had trouble formatting one, I'd use the MTE on it. And it'd usually format afterwards.
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Will do good
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Will do good » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:21 pm

gtd98765 wrote:There are many time-consuming suggestions here. Unless you are a gazillionaire or have a really good reason to think the NSA is willing to devote millions of dollars of time to figure out your finances, I would (in fact do) just hook up such drives temporarily to another computer and run DBAN to wipe them. Then dispose of them at your city's electronics recycling depot. Only a state actor could have a remote possibility to restore scraps of info after DBAN has run. Even if recovery were possible, the chance is minuscule that such an actor would either get lucky enough or devote enough time/money to find the tiny portion of your personal info on a disk in the midst of all the windows programs, temporary files, etc. Remember that movies/TV shows making this look easy are fiction.


Sure, use common sense against our clever plans.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby tibbitts » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:30 pm

I find it uncomfortable to physically destroy something like a hard drive, but apparently nobody else feels that way.

However a lot of posts saying to run this or that software seem to ignore the not-working aspect of the drive.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby adamthesmythe » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:51 pm

tibbitts wrote:I find it uncomfortable to physically destroy something like a hard drive, but apparently nobody else feels that way.


That's because it's a joyful act.

And one more idea- will it blend?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHu_EJVZm58

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby flamesabers » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:36 am

tibbitts wrote:I find it uncomfortable to physically destroy something like a hard drive, but apparently nobody else feels that way.


When I'm absolutely sure I no longer have a need for a hard drive, destroying a hard drive isn't any different for me then cutting up a credit card or shredding documents with sensitive information. I'm doing it to protect myself from fraud, not because I get a particular enjoyment from destroying hard drives.

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Will do good
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Will do good » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:50 am

tibbitts wrote:However a lot of posts saying to run this or that software seem to ignore the not-working aspect of the drive.


A not-working drive could mean many things, such as motor is not spinning, reading head is not engage, but all your personal data is still on the disk.
I understand what we do is over the top, most thieves wouldn't go to this much trouble to steal personal data when they could just go on the Dark net. But 5 minutes of effort to make sure our drive is not recoverable makes most of us feel a little bit safer.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby AllieTB1323 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:52 am

Mike Scott wrote:There is something very satisfying about laying a hard drive on an anvil and smacking it with an 8lb sledge. It's effective as well as being cheap entertainment.


In much the same fashion I put one in a large vise then tried to put a ninety degree bend in the case using a hand sledge.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Labrat » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:25 am

It's remarkably easy to accomplish this, so I'm not sure why there's so much traffic on this thread. I guess we bogleheads are a paranoid group. A few whacks with a hammer in the driveway for my previous HDD, and the last one (with ALL of my PII) went into the campfire for a night before finding it's way into the trash. I'm an Electrical Engineer FWIW.
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby protagonist » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:08 pm

I'd just throw it away. I've done that before.

What are the chances that some geeky criminal would recover your hard disk from the landfill and then go to great lengths to attempt to recover your data, and , if successful, use that information to somehow hurt you?

I would think you are taking much greater risks just receiving your mail in an outdoor mailbox.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby acanthurus » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:35 pm

dratkinson wrote:As HDD cases seem to aluminum or plastic, then it must be something ferrous inside that's vibrating. Have never tried to access the HDD afterwards, just assumed it was deleted.

They've got a neodymium magnet inside for the voice coil motor that positions the read head, although it's typically pretty well shielded I thought.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:55 pm

azurekep wrote:"Alexa, destroy my hard drive."


This is dangerous! Recall that when Jeff asked her to buy something from Whole Foods, she has bought Whole Foods.

Victoria
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby angelescrest » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:49 pm

Angelus359 wrote:All of these physical destruction methods are inferior to a simple wipe, and then secure erase

If you 0 out every bit on the drive, there is nothing to read

Also, you could simply encrypt the drive, and then lose the encryption key

Inferior? I beg to differ.

I started the process of doing what you described through Mac's disk utility this past week, at the highest security method, and it would've taken forever.

So I went to the garage yesterday, took out my sledgehammer, and finished the job in one satisfying slam. Was way more efficient, used no electricity, and allowed me to use my computer untethered to an external hard drive. 30 seconds vs hours, plus the emotional release. :D

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby itstoomuch » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:54 pm

I disassemble mostly because the HD has an extremely powerful magnet. I glue magnet to a spoke of my bicycle, which activates the reed switch on the bike computer.
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby protagonist » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
azurekep wrote:"Alexa, destroy my hard drive."


This is dangerous! Recall that when Jeff asked her to buy something from Costco, she has bought Costco.

Victoria



I wonder if that is how Amazon bought Whole Foods. "Alexa, buy Whole Foods".

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby VictoriaF » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:01 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
azurekep wrote:"Alexa, destroy my hard drive."


This is dangerous! Recall that when Jeff asked her to buy something from Costco Whole Foods, she has bought Costco Whole Foods.

Victoria



I wonder if that is how Amazon bought Whole Foods. "Alexa, buy Whole Foods".


You are right, it was Whole Foods. I accidentally wrote Costco and now have corrected it to Whole Foods.

Victoria
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby mrc » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:10 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
azurekep wrote:"Alexa, destroy my hard drive."


This is dangerous! Recall that when Jeff asked her to buy something from Costco Whole Foods, she has bought Costco Whole Foods.

Victoria



I wonder if that is how Amazon bought Whole Foods. "Alexa, buy Whole Foods".


You are right, it was Whole Foods. I accidentally wrote Costco and now have corrected it to Whole Foods.

Victoria


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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby sunny_socal » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:36 am

michaeljc70 wrote:I've beaten them with a hammer and soaked in water. If it is at all possible to recover anything from them, no one would waste their time. They go for low hanging fruit in identity theft.


^^^ This

I always use the hammer method. No worries. Thieves won't bother.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:28 am

sunny_socal wrote:
michaeljc70 wrote:I've beaten them with a hammer and soaked in water. If it is at all possible to recover anything from them, no one would waste their time. They go for low hanging fruit in identity theft.


^^^ This

I always use the hammer method. No worries. Thieves won't bother.


When you are a hammer every hard disk looks like a nail.

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby ubermax » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:11 pm

Here's what I've done -----I put them in a plastic bag and (1) take a sledge hammer to them and then (2) put them in household garbage at our local dump and from there they get hauled to an incinerator .

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Angelus359 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:44 pm

ubermax wrote:Here's what I've done -----I put them in a plastic bag and (1) take a sledge hammer to them and then (2) put them in household garbage at our local dump and from there they get hauled to an incinerator .


Putting electronics in the garbage is illegal here. Recycling is mandatory.
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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby radiowave » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:04 pm

Blowtorch?

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby meebers » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:46 pm

Nothing beats putting them in the middle of your driveway and letting your welder work on it. :mrgreen:

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Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby aqan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:21 pm

I wiped mine with DBAN and then copied a large file to it until the disk was full. Also did create a small file to make sure the disk was 100% full.
I guessed if the media was totally written over then the previous contents must've been wiped.
Of course if you have something incriminating on it ;) you want to open it with a screwdriver and plug it back in to usb, as the platters start spinning the heads will scratch the heck out of them, virtually destroying them. You can then drill some holes on the platters or just smash them with a hammer.

plasma800
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:09 pm

Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby plasma800 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:59 pm

I'm pretty sure he said the drives were inoperable.

I'd toss em in my burn barrel along with all the other mail and stuff I burn up :)

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 5112
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: how to destroy hard disk with personal info

Postby Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:36 pm

Do none of you watch Forged in Fire on the History channel?

I don't have a forge in my garage, but I do have a die grinder. Easy enough to turn the magnetic coating into powder then throw the disk in my aluminum box which I cash in periodically.
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