How to destroy a hard drive

How to destroy a hard drive

Summary: 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.

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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.

Topics: Big Data, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Outage

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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4 comments
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  • Ho Hum

    Just a load of crap really.
    Just shows what idiot nerds work at ZDnet.
    Slow news day guys?
    anonymous
  • Entertainment not news

    MOTT i don't think this was a news piece. Its just a work of wreckless destruction which is great entertainment anyday. I.E. will It blend?
    anonymous
  • Ahem ....

    Inside the ZDNet office:

    "We like Jeremy Clarkson .... lets copy the kind of things he does, but with IT type stuff .... that'll bring the punters in."

    ......

    "Hmmm only two comments in a couple of months, the second of which we wrote ourselves ..... back to the drawing board!"
    anonymous
  • Slow day?

    More likely they had an agreement with the boys at Kroll to experiment with means of data destruction.
    anonymous