How to destroy a hard drive

In this video, we don our white lab coats and set about deleting data from hard drives. Instead of using more traditional methods, we decided to barbecue one hard drive, smash another one to pieces with a hammer and microwave the third.

In this video, we don our white lab coats and set about deleting data from hard drives. Instead of using more traditional methods, we decided to barbecue one hard drive with kerosene, smash another one to pieces with a hammer and microwave the third.

Once destroyed, we sent them to data recovery service Kroll Ontrack and waited for the result.

Eventually, we got a call from Ontrack's public relations firm advising us that no data was recovered from any of the drives.

Talk about anti-climax!

Kroll Ontrack's general manager for the Asia Pacific region Adrian Briscoe described ZDNet.com.au as "proficient in the art of data destruction". He explained that our hammer had proven a very reliable data-killer.

"ZDNet.com.au certainly proved itself when preparing the hard drives for the Kroll Ontrack Clean Room! The platters inside modern laptop hard drives are made of glass and can withstand only small bumps."

"The damage inflicted by the ZDNet hammer proved too much for the fragile platters in this case. Most of the time, dropping a laptop or external hard drive off a desk will mean data recovery is still possible. Our engineers are able to bypass that kind of damage. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and contrary to what TV shows like CSI will tell you, piecing together a shattered platter in order to recover critical data is not possible," said Briscoe.

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So what about the fire-damaged drive? Well once again the drive was so badly damaged that no data was recovered. However, Briscoe seemed surprised by this.

"Hard drives suffering fire damage are commonplace in the Kroll Ontrack Clean Room too. Again, so long as the platters are still intact, there is hope for data recovery. Charred drives from the Space Shuttle Columbia were sent to us for successful data recovery. It just goes to prove you should never assume data is unrecoverable," he said.

In our view, the biggest disappointment was the lack of data from the third drive, which we repeatedly nuked in a 950W microwave oven until the microwave packed in.

Can microwaves really cause so much damage? We guess they must.

So although we didn't learn much from this exercise, we did have a great time destroying the drives and hope you enjoy the video.

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