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What is the best way to dispose of old data CDs?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 28, 2013 9:17 AM PDT
Question:

What is the best way to dispose of old data CDs?


After many years of having a computer and making hundreds of backups on CD-R discs, I realized that I don't need most of them anymore, especially since I now have a new computer that uses DVD-RW. I also now have an external drive for my old unit. How can I safely dispose of my old discs without someone getting their hands on my info and without hurting the environment? Thank you.

--Submitted by A.W.
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They break easily, but do shatter
by wpgwpg / June 28, 2013 9:22 AM PDT

I just put them in a box and give it a few whacks with a sledge hammer, then throw the box in the trash. It's not hard to shatter them, but you do want to put them in something to keep pieces from flying everywhere when you smash them.

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(NT) Smash and go :)
by AneSW / July 23, 2013 12:36 AM PDT
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Shredder
by portiers / June 28, 2013 9:41 PM PDT

Run it through a paper shredder that excepts CD's we have one at work.

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Yes shredder
by 123john456 / June 28, 2013 9:50 PM PDT
In reply to: Shredder

Most good shredders accept discs these days, I have one at home. Good for bank cards too.

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I can fix this..
by jv / July 12, 2013 11:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Shredder

I specialize in gluing together shredded bits. I can undo all of your shredding in an instant. Call me when you realize you need this info....Taaaa!

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Seriously...
by killianred / July 13, 2013 5:34 AM PDT
In reply to: I can fix this..

Why would you do that???

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Fast and easy
by mcdonaldrjjr / June 28, 2013 9:48 PM PDT

Microwave them for a few seconds.

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You'll destroy the microwave!
by darrenforster99 / June 29, 2013 6:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Fast and easy

Whilst a microwave would certainly destroy the CD's as their metallic your also at risk of damaging the magnetron inside the microwave - so don't do it - unless you want to have to buy a new microwave.

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microwave works
by dvroman / July 13, 2013 2:00 PM PDT

2 to 3 seconds in the microwave will destroy the CD / DVD and won't harm the microwave. Been doing it for years (more than 20) and it hasn't hurt a microwave yet. Yes I have a working microwave from 1981.
Agreed that 10 seconds is too much and will harm the microwave.

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(NT) 20 Years really?
by AneSW / July 23, 2013 12:40 AM PDT
In reply to: microwave works
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One of my buddies....
by JCitizen / July 23, 2013 3:21 AM PDT
In reply to: 20 Years really?

just had a failure on one that was built in the '70s - electronics were more robust in those days. He lucked out until now. He inherited it from his father.

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I just ran 6 DVD's through
by itsdigger / July 23, 2013 3:24 AM PDT
In reply to: One of my buddies....

the shredder ,number 7 might be coming real fast

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WOW! You must have the record!
by btljooz / July 23, 2013 8:18 AM PDT
In reply to: One of my buddies....

I have an Amana Radar Range Heritage Touchmatic II that was bought new in 1980 that just gave it up last week. It's gotten to be sort of a vendetta to see how long the thing would last! LOL! I wonder if it had lasted longer if the original owner hadn't put a spoon in it right after it was bought for her????

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Hey!
by JCitizen / July 23, 2013 9:39 AM PDT

I can believe that btjooz Grin

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reuse
by Chandaxi / June 28, 2013 10:01 PM PDT

you can decorate it with adhesive paper or color tape and make some nice table protectors for glasses, or spacers, or just turn into some decorative artsy stuff around.

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Get creative.
by tmills27 / June 28, 2013 10:05 PM PDT

If you like to paint use them as a mini palette for mixing paints. I actually do this all the time, then when done break it a few times and trash it.

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Easy Question, Easy Answer
by Flatworm / June 28, 2013 10:08 PM PDT

The CNet Community Newsletter used to have a category each week for "Easy Questions, Easy Answers." This is one of those.

Nearly every document shredder, even the least expensive, has a slot specifically designed to feed CDs and DVDs into it for shredding into confetti. These can then be poured into your recycling bin.

A shredder is something you should own in any event.

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Old CDs
by Polterry / June 28, 2013 10:57 PM PDT

I agree with comments regarding shredders. A more low tech approach is to use a good pair of scissors and make a cut to the centre of the disks. Regarding disposal it depends upon your local rubbish disposal service and how far you are willing to go to help environment.

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Shred them
by elvisfan / June 29, 2013 12:10 AM PDT

As many people have said,shred them. Then recycle. They are plastic. Who knows,they may come back as a milk jug some day. Or as a piece of plastic on your car.

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recycling cd's
by walldoo99 / July 3, 2013 7:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Shred them

Our local recycle ctr said they go in the trash because of the backing. According to goole there are places to send them. You might donate them to a local art school. I am seeing some interesting art made from them.

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Disposing CDs
by krkos / June 29, 2013 12:40 AM PDT

For starters, nuking CDs may release harmful vapors in the microwave or may destroy the microwave. One solution is to use sandpaper to really mark up the writing surface (or, use your foot to rub them on the pavement), then use a hammer to make them into small pieces. The data on the CD is written into the pits so it is usually best to make sure the surface is scratched up enough to get into those pits. A second idea is to put six together, with the shiny side out, like a dice using either a permanent glue for drill small holes and using little wire to keep them together. This will make a sun catcher that will spin the in wind -- good for the garden.

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Creative
by underwriter505 / June 29, 2013 2:09 AM PDT

Annie's Attic used to have a great line of pattern for making them into coasters or small trivets if you crochet. I was going to mention the suncatcher mobile too - krkos beat me to it. I'll add that if you feed songbirds you may not want to do this as it scares them. Of course if you WANT to scare them off it is a great and cheap deterrent.

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cd coaster
by walldoo99 / July 3, 2013 7:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Creative

Yeah but how many coasters can you use? I made more than enough coaster with my failed burns

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Shredding Is Overkkill
by richwheeler / June 29, 2013 2:22 AM PDT

All it takes is a few deep scratches. Here are some hints about how to make good scratches:

Home CDs store information in a layer between the label and the plastic. If you hold up the CD to a light and can see light through the scratch, it's deep enough.

CD drives write the data starting at the center. (Phonograph records started at the outside.) Make one or two good scratches that go past the hole (secants).

CDs store a lot of redundant information so that if minor scratches destroy a few bits, the drive can fill in the bad information. Since the information is written in a spiral, perpendicular scratches from the hole outward (diameter or radius) are less effective. Instead, make scratches that go across the CD, past the hole.

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Disposing o fold CDs and similar disks
by quiggo / July 12, 2013 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Shredding Is Overkkill

Many suggestions have been made but I have - and many people do - a bench grinder with coarse and fine abrasive discs.
All it takes are two or three passes on the coarse wheel ON BOTH SIDES of the dics. Voila - It is impossible to be read or deciphered by any known methods! Then dispose of them in an approved manner.

George Quigley

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Microwave...fun, and pretty.
by bigjohnl / July 12, 2013 12:42 PM PDT
In reply to: Shredding Is Overkkill
Confused
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unwanted Cd's
by pomojoe / July 13, 2013 3:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Shredding Is Overkkill

I just string my old disks up on a line above my Berry bushes ,spinning in the wind they keep the birds at bay and the Sun destroys the data quite nicely,when all the coating and color is gone,they are well done Happy

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Sun?
by Gerdd / July 13, 2013 11:50 PM PDT
In reply to: unwanted Cd's

Oh, you live in one of those places where the cloud cover isn't permanent ... lucky you ...

But hasn't anyone from the NSA come around at night picking your CDs from the berry bushes? Just kidding - it is quite the scream at the moment in countries where they still remember the Gestapo, the Stasi or the KGB.

But I digress - having a bit of a workshop and a bunch of great power tools - and from time to time a large amount of disks to dispose of, I take a handful at a time, clamp them together and use an angle grinder on the pack to cut a wedge out that gets close to the center holes and thus destroys the TOC as well as all data tracks. If anyone wants to glue that back together I should expect the grinder would have pulverized enough along its path that they wouldn't have enough to go by. Also, throw the wedge out a week after the rest of the disks and it will be hard to put the matching pieces together. If you don't have an angle grinder one of those circular saw attachments for your drill might also work quite well - just cutting out round pieces instead of pizza slice shaped ones ...

If you need to do this on a bigger scale I suggest you get a long threaded steel rod as well as a couple of matching nuts and washers, put all your disks on there, tighten the nuts and grind away at the whole back in one go.

Then, instead of throwing the leftovers in the trash you can still donate the material to a charity for recycling if there is such a thing.

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recycle via GreenDisk
by miklb / June 29, 2013 2:59 AM PDT
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recycle via GreenDisk
by phaedrus820 / January 4, 2014 2:09 AM PST
In reply to: recycle via GreenDisk

Great suggestion!

Thank you.

Jonathan

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