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Poll: What did you do with your last old hard drive?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 3, 2012 7:57 AM PST
What did you do with your last old hard drive?

-- Put it in a closet. (How many drives do you have now?)
-- Sent it to the trash can. (Did you destroy or format it?)
-- Donated it. (Did you format it?)
-- Recycled it. (Did it cost you anything?)
-- Gave it to a friend or relative. (Any regrets?)
-- Reused it. (How so?)
-- Physically destroyed it. (How so?)
-- Made art with it. (Any pics?)
-- Other (Please explain.)
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Disposing of old hard drive.
by yokosuka / February 3, 2012 9:24 AM PST

I removed it from the PC, took it to the garage and put it in a vise. Then I drilled several holes in it. Finally, I put it on the cement floor and smashed it with a small sledge hammer. Very satisfying, I might add.

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Just keeping them until I destroy them...
by Doh_1 / February 3, 2012 9:24 AM PST

I have 4 old drives from defunct computers that I can't throw away until I physically destroy them *smile*. I plan on taking them apart and screwing up the platters and electronics. Then I can throw them away. Might keep the magnets, though *smile*.

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I use old harddrives as portable storage
by john3347 / February 3, 2012 9:43 AM PST

I do a simple Windows format on old harddrives and use them with a drive adapter as an external storage device. I am, to this day, using several 6 and 10 megabyte harddrives in this manner. One would have a hard time convincing me that a hard drive has a short lifespan with my experience. I agree that a harddrive has some finite life expectancy, but when I am using harddrives on a daily basis that are approaching 20 years old I simply do not buy into the idea that a harddrive is a delicate instrument with a short lifespan. (Bought my first computer in the mid '80s) In my 25 years computer experience including the use of old harddrives in this manner I have seen 2 harddrive failures; one old device with an unknown history and one new one still within factory warranty.

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jrfoleyjr, I can't agree with you more...
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 1:41 PM PST

I, too, have some ancient hard drives that still work just fine. One is so old it's only 4 gigs! One is in daily use in the computer I'm on now as a separate storage drive. It came out of an old computer that came out brand new with Windows 95 (not 95se!) loaded on it. I've only had one out of 11 drives ever fail. It was only just old enough to have had the warranty expire very shortly before it fried. THAT one was destroyed by plasma cutter! Laugh LOL! Devil

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Well, this is embarrassing to say the LEAST!
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 1:45 PM PST

I went and pasted the wrong name to that. So sorry, john3347! Blush

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by ilk2wch / February 4, 2012 5:48 AM PST

obviously seem to be paying attention --- it happenz --- but still agree with preservation -- i know i could have been more tech, on this ---but i also know who readz these --- "keeping it simple "---

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yeah, true, true, but ...
by Gerdd / February 3, 2012 7:58 PM PST

I agree, I have some drives "still working after all these years" (with apologies to Paul Simon.)

But I also have had quite a few warranty replacements and the odd drive totalled by physical shock, so I do treat them gently and do my backups as best I can. I have also duplicated the experiment that someone published on the web, where he had removed the lid from an old IDE drive and then continued running it for months in an ordinary office environment.

So, yes, hard drives can stand more abuse than common folklore may tell you. But it isn't what I would bet my valuable data on.

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by john3347 / February 6, 2012 3:08 AM PST

Woops! Those old harddrives are 6 to 10 Gigabyte, not Megabyte.

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Destroy it or Re-Use it
by ESUNintel / February 3, 2012 10:05 AM PST

Ive either destroyed old hard drives or reused it as an external drive. If the drive isn't old and works well, I just sell it on eBay after formatting it. Destroying HDDs is so much fun.

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Destroyed It...
by EscapePod / February 3, 2012 10:19 AM PST

Five rounds from an AK-47 at 40 Yards.

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by mwooge / February 3, 2012 10:19 AM PST

I either use to store a backup or give it to a friend at work who does repairs on old computers. Either way I first wipe any incriminating... er, private data.

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Data Remanence
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 1:53 PM PST
In reply to: Reuse
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Put it in the closet...Along with all the rest
by mooman420a / February 3, 2012 10:20 AM PST

I have about a dozen or so old hard drives from laptops and desktops range in size from 2GB to 160GB. But my collection of old computer junk doesn't stop there...I also have an old Commodore 64, an Atari 1200XL, several 5.25" floppy drives, and I think I still have a 5MB hard drive for an Apple II. Yes I said 5 MEGABYTE hard drive!

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hard drives --old ?????
by ilk2wch / February 3, 2012 10:33 AM PST
i agree with john3347---i have about 15 drivez that still hold win 95/ 98 / linix/-etc---currently )as with lpz -- converting to ditital--there is also(at a minimum cost -)many that will download all data --reconvert it and allow some additionz that the "newer" systemz left behind---this can be handy --- many an hour went into these creationz and hold much data -- long forgotten or overwritten ---as wel the longevity seemz detemined by itz "then " newness ---now most crap out at the end of warranty ---"the built in obsolence factor "...a fridge was once meant to last ---i still have a 28 year old "westinghouse" (worth a fortune now) --still operating as new ---
so too the dayz of thinking this was aS good as we could get -- much was made to last -- and has . much of wat would have been private data --has long since been changed -- as we all do -- nothing on my older drivez is in the least bit interesting to hackerz --- some i have even baited -- just to obtain IP -ADDRESSES-- (capz locked ---nope ) -- i`m a horder to begin with -- but were all that was was is now new --(- i have still and many a time has saved me reformating win xp / win 7 -- with bitz of previous commandz that surpass or add to wat you get ---
there iz alwayz more now --- i don`t get this -- the "more" has been here before ---just newbiez think itz new --- and alwayz lacking ---requiring a quick fix patch that consumes 10% of memory --rather than jusy fixing it ---
seemz to me many on this web awareness now ---forget 1) they didn`t invent "sms" shortcutz --- wouldn`t know a cpu / usb/-etc from lol/omg/btw/speak ---2) wat once was a two story building to workout 2 x 2 = 4 --is now slipped into the pocket --- older yes -- but assumeing all this just came outta a fancy box (thatz mostly air) not ---look into any pre 2005 desktops and find all the nothing ---" teenage wasteland "--- sad really ----"ilk2wch"
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Hard drive destruction
by jrfoleyjr / February 3, 2012 10:50 AM PST

I wanted those small super strong magnets that are in the drive... yes there are some very powerful magnets in there. The uses of these little magnets are a lot of fun. But first remove the hard disk platters now that it is open and destroy them... drill, grind, burn, use your imagination.

Now those little magnets... you can attach a couple of them to the bottom of a McDonalds coca cola cup and put it on the roof of your car as if you set it there and forgot as you take off. You'll have people going through all sorts of gyrations to tell you that you left your coke on the roof of your car. Other uses come to mind too. Use your imagination.

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jrfoleyjr, now THAT is Funny!
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 1:35 PM PST
In reply to: Hard drive destruction


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I still have to usable computers with their hard drives.
by gabar / February 3, 2012 11:45 AM PST

I'd like to donate these but I need help with exactly how to remove all my data while leaving the programs.
we are starting an after school program for kids to get more proficient with computers and they'll need the software.

Both computers are PCs with Windows XP and Office.

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Overwriting data
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 2:02 PM PST

You can overwrite those files with a program by the name of File Shredder.

But, you just may want to learn about Data Remanence in the mean time.

Hope this helps. Grin

***This thread is NOT tracked.

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Data remanence from the source Wikipedia, the free encyclope
by Tanqy / February 3, 2012 9:07 PM PST
In reply to: Overwriting data
Data remanence is the residual representation of data that remains even after attempts have been made to remove or erase the data. This residue may result from data being left intact by a nominal file deletion operation, by reformatting of storage media that does not remove data previously written to the media, or through physical properties of the storage medium that allow previously written data to be recovered.

Message was edited by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) 02/06/2012 9:35AM to fix broken links
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That is quite true, Tangy
by btljooz / February 4, 2012 7:37 AM PST

Thank you for weighing in with clarification.

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remove data/leave programs
by blaineclrk / February 3, 2012 4:33 PM PST

Best bet is to get a good scrubbing utility disk like DBAN or The Ultimate Boot Disk to overwrite and erase everything on the drives. Then reinstall XP and Office. All personal info is gone with no file remnants for anyone to uncover.

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Hard disk washer
by Tanqy / February 3, 2012 11:14 PM PST

I used Window Washer software version 6.0 ( Build ) 1997 , 2005 webroot software , size 3,04mb, to wash internet unnecessary file's, window unused file's, custom file's, click on wash utilities, choose Creat Erase Boot Disk, open your cd rom, put 700mb cd, click on Creat Erase Boot Disk, wait until window washer creat a bootable disk, the bootable disk is ready now, backup and save all your important file's on other hard disk like D or on external hard disk, restart your pc or ( laptop ), click on Del or F12, choose boot from cd rom, click Enter, window washer software start, click Enter twice, choose which hard disk you want to erase like C or ( D ), click Enter, choose what kind of erase you want ?, click Enter, wait until window washer software done, restart, put your operating system cd like window XP or any other OS cd, Thank you for reading.

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Old Hard Drive was given to a Friend along with the Computer
by Ron Geiken / February 3, 2012 11:50 AM PST

I never keep any compromising information on the computer, so was not too concerned. Also since the mother board had failed and the computer had Windows Vista 32 bit, I had the mother board replaced and updated to Windows 7 64 bit. I completely got rid of all my data on the drives that were inside the computer. I didn't keep any passwords for Financial Institution on the computer. Any other passwords were for informational sites and by now they are likely completely replaced. Just donating the computer without deleting the data on the drive is not a smart thing to do. If you just do a normal delete, it will likely be OK especially if it is a home computer. If the computer is used in a business, then the hard drive should be removed and physically destroyed. It wouldn't be wrong to erase the data on a donated home computer with a professional deletion program, but probably not necessary. You should definitely make sure that any financial data and passwords are erased.

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Resell, ext. HD or junked
by Willy / February 3, 2012 12:10 PM PST

Depending on the size, I save it for possible data storage as an ext. HD. However, most from older PCs tend to be too small or not worth it to me. So I sell them or junk them. Those I junk, I tear down for the scrap metal value and its a goner for sure. While I may some for PC rebuilds, most just are too old or having problems anyways, so junked. ------Willy Happy

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Recycle, repurpose, reuse
by blaineclrk / February 3, 2012 12:50 PM PST

I collect used computers and ask that the disks be professionally erased before I get them, but, that usually only happens on computers from companies.
I run "The Ultimate Boot Disk" on them and use the toughest program that the computer can deal with to erase and overwrite the drive. I then install, or try to install Vinux which is Ubuntu re-scripted to automatically enhance the accessible features of Ubuntu. Usually any computer that ran XP well has no trouble with Vinux. Any computer that came with later versions of Microsoft almost always takes the Vinux install. Once installed and tested, the computers are given to vision impaired computer users and wanna be computer users. This offers a chance for opening the doors for a much better social life once they get online and start emailing, facebooking, or IM'ing, learning computer skills and quite possibly qualifying for employment or better employment. Vinux is suitable for low vision, blind and, with a Braille display, deaf/blind users.
After a scrubbing with one of the utilities off of The Ultimate Boot Disk and installing Vinux there's no chance of anyone getting any old info off of the drive since the old file structure has been rewritten once and then the NTFS file structure is again overwritten when it's changed to the Linux file structure during the installation.
An extra for anyone who wants to do this, the USPS has a 'Free Matter for the Blind' mailing program that covers any processor with Vinux installed. That'd be the tower for a desktop or an entire laptop. Since monitors, keyboards (unless they have large image keys), mice and such can't be specifically altered just for low vision use, they aren't eligible. Peripheral hardware can usually be purchased fairly inexpensively or gotten from friends and relatives when the recipient gets the computer by United States Postal Service. You can give your computer to a friend or relative who needs assistive aids or to a church, the Salvation Army, a local Lions club or a local chapter of the blind or deaf/blind. Or use it for yourself if you have vision trouble.
Find links to info about Vinux here;

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Old hard drives
by btljooz / February 3, 2012 2:10 PM PST

All of my old hard drives still work just fine. Cool

The only one that fried was just old enough for its warranty to have expired so it was eviscerated so that the still data readable platters could be incinerated into oblivion by a plasma cutter. Silly

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Dazed and cornfuzed!
by btljooz / February 4, 2012 7:45 AM PST
In reply to: Old hard drives

OOPS! Instead of plasma cutter, make that an oxyacetylene torch. Blush Yes, I've got the distinct flavor of a terminal part of the vertebrate leg upon which an individual stands in my mouth! LOL! Devil

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Old hard drives
by bradac / February 3, 2012 2:53 PM PST

My old hard drives (2) from old computers had all unwanted programmes and data binned and placed in external caddies. I now use one for all my back ups and the other for storing my music and photos, just in case I ever have a total crash.

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Dbanned it
by haf canadian / February 3, 2012 4:19 PM PST

Used DBAN software on it, took it out of the desktop, gave the desktop to recycling, and gave the drive to a relative for a backup.

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How to help make sure all data is erased on hard drive
by Tanqy / February 5, 2012 9:20 PM PST
In reply to: Dbanned it

From the source comupter hope
How to help make sure all data is erased on hard drive.

If you concerned with data being read or recovered from your hard disk drive after it has sold or given away, we highly recommend you try the utilities found at the below web pages. Using one of these utilities will allow you to completely remove all data and make it impossible to be recovered or read. After it has been erased you can re-install Windows.
If you have an OEM computer (e.g. Acer, Dell, and Hewlett Packard) the hard drive may have a hidden system recovery partition. Using the below utilities may could erase this partition, making it impossible to restore your computer without a disc.
DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke) Free
Blancco Free and commercial version
Disk Wiper Cost
Eraser Free to all
Harddisk Eraser Free to all
Permanent Erasure Free to all
Thank you for reading

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