How to Destroy Old Hard Drive

If you own a computer in 2018 you should know how to destroy an old hard drive. Most average computer users never realize the vast amounts of sensitive data they store on their hard drives. Worse, when it comes to disposing of used hard drives, many people throw caution to the wind.

One indisputable fact about old hard drives is that they are a big security liability. Identity thieves are always aware that most people take this risk for granted.

To protect yourself against identity theft, you must dispose of your old hard drive securely. Some DIY methods can get the job done to a satisfactory level, especially for personal computers. However, at the business level, the risks are exponentially greater and, therefore, the surest way to destroy sensitive data is by entrusting the job with a reliable data destruction solution provider.

Destroy Old Hard Drive Image - DD

How to Destroy Old Hard Drive

Destroying a hard drive is easy. You don’t need to learn special skills of how to destroy an old hard drive. Almost anything that can cause damage to the platters (aluminum plates lined with a magnetic film) can physically destroy a hard drive. However, the real deal is destroying the data. Sometimes destroying the physical components of the drive may not be sufficient to obliterate the actual data.

Total data obliteration requires methods and techniques that guarantee zero chance of recoverability.

The good news is that there are quite a number of proven hard drive destruction techniques that guarantee total data destruction. Some DIY methods, if done right, can do great damage to the data and make it extremely hard to salvage.

As always, professional-grade techniques offer the best guarantees when it comes to eliminating data breach risks.

Proven Techniques for Hard Drive Destruction

Physical Hard Drive Destruction Image - DD

Physical Hard Drive Destruction

There are so many ways to physically destroy a hard drive, varying from simple DIY home methods to complex NSA-certified destruction techniques.

One of the easiest and cheapest DIY methods to destroy a hard drive is to crush it with a heavy object. A sledgehammer can do wonders but you can use any object that can cause significant damage to the platters. You want to make it extremely hard or simply not viable for anyone to try and recover any data from the damaged drive.

Burning the drive may also cause significant damage to its critical parts. However, one question the handiest people ask is, can you destroy a hard drive by putting it in the water? The simple answer is no. Water on its own isn’t sufficient to destroy the data on the platters. You need something that can cause serious corrosion to the platters, such as a highly corrosive chemical.

Hard drive shredding is also routinely used to destroy hard drives permanently. If done well, physical hard drive shredding provides high assurance of total data destruction.

Software Based Shredders

How to destroy old hard drive without damaging the physical device? A file eraser might be the weapon you need. Software-based hard drive shredders employ complex algorithms to erase or overwrite the data on a hard drive multiple times so that it cannot be read again. The most common process entails deleting the data and then replacing it with arbitrary characters.

Most software-based shredders are pretty effective for wiping non-sensitive data. However, if you’re dealing with highly classified information, you might want to consider a more effective method that guarantees total data destruction.

Dagaussing HD Image - DD


Degaussing uses magnets to completely destroy hard drives and render them unusable. Degaussing employs machines specially designed to destroy data on a hard drive permanently.

Many data destruction techniques use combination methods that typically start with degaussing and end with a physical destruction process or recycling.

If you have highly sensitive data stored on old hard drives, the best and only way to dispose of the drives is to choose a military-grade destruction solution that is NSA certified. Typically, such solutions are a reserve of reputed and proven data destruction solution providers such as Data Destruction Corporation.

Have you ever attempted a DIY method to find out how to destroy an old hard drive? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.


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