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Thread: What do I do with old unwanted external hard drives?

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    What do I do with old unwanted external hard drives?

    Like a number of us I have been a serious backuper. As the result I have accumulated a number of external hard drives over the years. Some are 350gbs and less.
    How and where do I dispose of them safely both environmentally and to ensure that my backed up data is destroyed.

    I am sure that there are good ways to dispose of these drives rather than just send them to land fill.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Donate them to local charities, schools etc. That is what I do
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Ooooh what fun.

    Seriously, pull it apart completely and donate the screws / bolts / nuts to a handy man, make sure all the metal parts go to a recycling bin and then delicately smash the platters in the drive itself.

    Problem solvered and fun had at the same time.

    The only part I don't know about ( tech challenged ) is if there is any retained voltage in the drive so caution may need to be exercised around the electrical bits.
    Andrew
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    I'd imagine alot of people would quite happily take them of your hands, assuming you have deleted all the data completely, you'd be doing some one a favour and saving yourself the effort of pulling it apart or driving somewhere to recycle/destroy it.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Both donation of the device and the disassembly of it are good options to consider.

    If you are into macro photography, the internals make for good/interesting/shiny/difficult subject matter.
    If you are of the extremely charitable type, I'm sure a family member friend or local charity/op shop may find it useful too.

    Use a secure drive wiper to make it hard for anyone to access the data easily.(CCCleaner is good for this).
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    Format them, or download a program that cleans the drive so nothing is recoverable, then sell them on eBay.

  7. #7
    It's all about the Light!
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    Quote Originally Posted by I @ M View Post
    The only part I don't know about ( tech challenged ) is if there is any retained voltage in the drive so caution may need to be exercised around the electrical bits.
    Non issue. Just some small electrolytic caps that will be discharged after ~10 seconds.
    You can get free diskwipe software.
    http://www.diskwipe.org/
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    I disposed of a number of disks a few months ago. Most of them were 2.5" (laptop) hard disks.

    I disassembled them, removed the platters and destroyed them.

    The platters in laptop hard disks are ceramic and therefore very brittle, and will shatter into hundreds of fragments when struck.

    The one 3.5" 40GB HDD I had wasn't so easy to destroy, but I gave the platter a good hammering (literally).

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    Bird Nerd Richard Hall's Avatar
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    I've just setup a system and I'm currently in the process of wiping 100's of SAS HDD out of servers that have been sent for recycling/refurbishment. I use DBAN (free and I can wipe multiple drives at once) and a 3pass wipe to DoD 5220.22-M specs, though realistically a single pass wipe with 0's is sufficient to securely wipe your data off the drive. Unless the person has both the skills and more importantly the equipment to forensically recover data off a HDD it's safe. Even a single pass wipe can take many hours depending on the drive size.

    I think it'd be good if you could donate them, surely there would be someone who could make use of them. If not, see what e-waste or recycling schemes are in your area.
    Last edited by Richard Hall; 31-01-2012 at 2:46pm.
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    Bird Nerd Richard Hall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I @ M View Post
    The only part I don't know about ( tech challenged ) is if there is any retained voltage in the drive so caution may need to be exercised around the electrical bits.
    No, but watch the magnets in them as they're very strong and I've seen a few unsuspecting types get some nasty finger pinches.

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    Thanks everyone for your great ideas...

    I have a mac so will reformatting them through disk utility be enough or do I need to download some of the software that has been suggested by Richard or Photomike666 and wipe them with that as well?

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    Bird Nerd Richard Hall's Avatar
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    It sounds like you may very well already have the necessary software installed to securely erase your HDDs. Have a look HERE and see if this helps.

    Be certain you've selected the right drive to wipe and not one of your system drives!

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    Thanks Richard that link was extremely helpful...to confirm that I have erased things properly.

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