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hard drive disposal

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.

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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.

Free Download

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.

Wiping a disk is one of the best ways for hard drive disposal. You can use MiniTool Partition Wizard to have a try.Click to tweet

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.

Where can I find hard drive disposal services? Read this post to get answers.Click to tweet

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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