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WILL A MAGNET  ERASE ALL DATA ON A COMPUTER HARDRIVE

Posted on 2007-03-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
ive heard that if a hardrive  is held against a "magnet "  that the magnet will  completly   wipe everything off  the drive ..Is this REALLY true... ??
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Question by:odaman2
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PUNKY earned 84 total points
ID: 18786320
I dont know how if it works, some of my friends who are crazy enough to discuss about this long ago, and actually tried on their computers to see, and data is still there, nothing is changed.
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by:sirbounty
sirbounty earned 83 total points
ID: 18786331
I believe it has to be a very powerful magnet for it to even make a dent in the data destruction.
However, I've heard that there are data recovery companies that claim to be able to retrieve data 'removed' this way...

The only sure way to be positive that your data is gone, is to physically destroy the drive.
Unless you have some extremely sensitive data to be concerned about though, you can use a disk wiping program like Disk Wipe (http://dban.sourceforge.net/) to wipe it clean...still doesn't guarantee it's not somewhat recoverable, but it certainly makes it more time consuming and cost-ineffective... ;^)
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by:bgbeer
bgbeer earned 83 total points
ID: 18787216
yes a magnet will destroy the info on  ur harddrive!

the only catch is it has to have a huge amount of magnetic force to do this.

http://ask-leo.com/how_should_i_erase_my_hard_drive_before_i_give_it_away.html

It's theoretically possible to recover data even after a disk has been unconditionally formatted. It's not easy, and may require special tools (both hardware and software). In general it's a very expensive process. But it may be possible.

It's a common recommendation to use a big heavy magnet to really erase a hard disk. My advice: forget it. Any magnets you're likely to have around the house, even your big speaker magnets, are unlikely to affect your hard disk in any significant way.

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by:michko
ID: 18787225
A magnet will not wipe out your data.  If you need to wipe data from your HD, check this link:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2005/06/before_you_get_rid_of_that_har.html
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by:bgbeer
ID: 18787227
the only real way to clean a hdd is to do an unconditional format, use bcwipe or another really good one is Darik's Boot and Nuke:
http://ask-leo.com/how_should_i_erase_my_hard_drive_before_i_give_it_away.html

u can read more about it or even download it on the site listed above.
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by:bgbeer
ID: 18787238
michko:
get your facts straight please before u post a link!!!

A magnet will not wipe out your data.  If you need to wipe data from your HD, check this link:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2005/06/before_you_get_rid_of_that_har.html

here's a little quote from the link u posted!!!

"And in case you were wondering, it is also possible to erase a hard drive using a giant magnet or an electrically-charged magnetic coil (a technique known as "degaussing")."
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by:michko
ID: 18787272
bgbeer - my facts are pretty well straight.  True, it is possible to bomb out the HD this way, but I seriously doubt that this poster has access to the "giant magnet" or "electrically-charged magnetic coil" necessary to do so.  (Note to odaman2 - I read all of your posts, if I'm wrong, please kindly correct me.  also - my sympathies.  in regards to your post regarding "stalker" - you should contact your police department, what you're talking about is a criminal act)

I've had user's who have plastered the side of their pc's with "fridge" magnets.  Any problems they had saving data, etc. were corrected by removing the magnets.  Files they had already saved were not affected.  Magnets on your pc can affect data transfer due to their subtle changes in the current.  A magnet powerful enough to actually wipe your hard drive is not something that most people have just sitting around.  I've personally taken the magnets from the magnetron in a microwave, placed them on both sides of a HD and let them sit for 2 days.  The disk wouldn't boot, but hooked up as a slave I was able to run data recovery tools on them and pull most of the data off.  

Also bgbeer, you should do a little more research.  An unconditional format will NOT make data unrecoverable.  There are freeware programs that will easily recover data left after an unconditional format.  
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by:bgbeer
ID: 18787310
"michko
"A magnet will not wipe out your data.  If you need to wipe data from your HD, check this link:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2005/06/before_you_get_rid_of_that_har.html"


I've had user's who have plastered the side of their pc's with "fridge" magnets.  Any problems they had saving data, etc. were corrected by removing the magnets.  Files they had already saved were not affected.  Magnets on your pc can affect data transfer due to their subtle changes in the current.

if u would read the link I provided and even the one u provided it talks about it in detail.

u said it WILL NOT wipe the data....
if u knew this why not post the facts in the first place.


and yes u are right about the formatting the hdd.
If u would have read the link it does explain this and also states the average user does'nt have the capabilities to do the recovery. it post the download to dnab.

all I can say is read the posts in detail.  :o)
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by:michko
ID: 18787344
bgbeer - I won't get into a nitpicking argument here.  But, I will clarify a few things:

The question posted was if holding a hard drive against a magnet would completely erase the data.  Guess I should have asked what kind of magnet, how strong, etc.  The basic answer is no.  Not any magnet that is available to the general user.  It may scramble things a bit, but it won't erase it beyond recovery.  

If you really want to make sure no data can be recovered, run one or more of the suggested programs, then disassemble the HD and smash the platters with a hammer.  Then throw them away, in separate trash pickups.  This works for our police dept.  Bottom line is, if you don't want to chance data recovery, don't leave anything that can be recovered.  A simple magnet won't do this.

And, the poster did not ask how to ensure data can't be recovered, they asked if a magnet would completely wipe a hard drive.  The answer to that is no.
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by:bgbeer
ID: 18787404
one other thing that should be noted is that when using a magnet of the magnitude required u may also render the hdd useless.

the only people I've heard of doing this is criminals that are paranoid of the police and do'nt want them to find evidence on the hdd. in this case they are not worried about losing the hdd just rendering the info unrecoverable.
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by:groetting
ID: 18787631
There are not only criminals using this way to erase harddrives. The degausser makes the disk unusable. The degausser has a VERY strong magnetic field and is fired by remote. Holding a regular magnet outside your disk will not do the same. Here is a link to a deguasser by IBAS , Nordics leading specialist in Data Recovery, Computer Forensics and Data Erasure products and services http://www.ibas.com/data-erasure/degausser
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by:itcs-css
ID: 18789012
A magnet strong enough to wipe the data from a modern encased hard drive will warp the platters and make the drive unusable.  You will not find a magnet like this in your local hardware store...

As to the above, fridge magnets would have more to do with interfering with proper transmission through relatively unshielded IDE cables that often touch the side of the case on the inside.  It would not do anything to data that lived as bits on the platters of the drive.

The penetration of the magnetic field of refrigerator  magnets would be extremely small.

As for criminals...check your local laws, in my state it is REQUIRED by law to wipe a drive 10 times with random data before the drive can leave any state agency...so there are tons of legit uses for the software.
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by:gk383
ID: 18789541
a strong magnet can delete your data from your harddisk but not all datas it may demage some part of them by time you can restore them by useing scan disk all flopy (1,44" old disks) and hdd (hard disks) are store datas by electoromagnetic tracks
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by:KingCody
ID: 18790471
nothing can delete (or completely wipe out) data from a hard drive. a very powerful magnet could corrupt data and damage the drive to the point that it is no longer usable in a PC. although the drive may be unusable, that doesn't mean that the data is gone. once data is written to a hard drive, traces of it remain there forever.

for the average user, several zero-writes with a program such as kill-disk, etc is more than enough to protect their privacy. for corporate and government users, they often require many zero-writes. with each zero-write the data becomes harder and harder to recover. there exists very powerful software programs which can recover data even after zero-writes. if the drive has been re-written to the point that the data is unrecoverable via software or the drive itself has been physically damaged (either by magnetic force or brute force) than a determined government agency such as the US Dept. of Defense can still recover data via an electron microscope. (but to be realistic, if you did something so bad that the DoD is after you, then your hard drive is probably not your biggest concern)

so to answer the original question in the form it was asked... the answer is no... no magnet can "completely wipe everything off the drive". however if it were strong enough, it could corrupt/destroy the data and render the drive unusable, far beyond the point where a criminal/eavesdropper would have the resources to recover it.
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by:gurnox
ID: 18791548
Won't add anything to what's already been written here. But if you want to completely destroy a hard-drive, and the data on it, nothing beats a heavy hammer or an industrial press (crusher).

Enjoy!
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by:xph1le
ID: 18799015
WOW - that's a lot of posts on a simple topic. I saw folks referencing the paranoid or those running from law enforcement - as far as who would want to use a degausser. I would argue that any responsible person would take steps to protect their retired information or equipment. Degaussing is a great solution - but as previously pointed out - not very cost effective. There are, however, services provided to "wipe" your stuff before you donate or throw away.

The Department of Defense makes use of drive degaussing systems. They are the size of a small refrigerator and are incredibly loud! Not to mention you can't be anywhere near them while they are running with sensitive items in your pockets (thumb drives , credit cards, etc.

Another option for completely clearing your old drive is a process called shredding. Shredding writes, rewrites, and rewrites bogus data across your platters. Data is recoverable until it is written over - then it absolutely cannot be recovered!

Additionally - repartitioning your drive is effective in discouraging recovery attempts. That and unconditional formats are very effective.

Good luck!
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by:michko
ID: 19212637
mcp_jon - I think my contributions to the discussion provided useful information to the poster and other experts and should be included in the accepted solution.  I am not opposed to a four-way split.  
Anyone agree or disagree?  
Thanks,
michko
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by:PUNKY
ID: 19212645
Agree :)
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by:bgbeer
ID: 19214765
I agree w/ the recommendation of the points being split 3 ways.   :)
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by:bgbeer
ID: 19214800
I do have a problem w/ sharing the points w/ punky though..........lol

his answer was not backed up with facts!

most everyone agreed that the magnet if powerful enough will wip a hard drive.

sirbounty, xph1le, myself and if u read far enough into the info what michko has posted u will find it supports that infact a powerfull enough magnet will wipe a hard drive......degauss

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by:xph1le
ID: 19241205
How am I not getting a cut on this one?
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