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Looking for an efficient way to wipe out (permanently delete or physically destroy) a hard drive

Posted on 2011-02-25
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
I will need to send 6 computers to recycle. What is the efficient way to destroy the data on the hard drive?
I've heard of DBAN. I have the feeling that it may take long time to finish according to what I understand how it works. The hard drives in those computers are all less than 80GB. I am wondering how long it'll take to run DBAN against one of them. If it takes minutes, it will be acceptable. Otherwise, I think I will need another solution.

Any thoughts, my friends?

Thanks

J
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Question by:techcity
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by:szichen
szichen earned 50 total points
ID: 34978537
Hi techcity

There are many disk wiping softwares to use. I haven't seen one yet that will take just minutes or even an hour to securely wipe a disk. The good ones normally take hours to wipe a hard drive because of the number of passes (copying Department of Defense strategy for wiping hard drive) it will run over the disk. Look at it this way:
the more passes over the disk - the less likely it is for someone to recover data.
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by:techcity
ID: 34978576
My hourly charge is not cheap from my client's point of view. I do not think they would pay a few hours of my labor for data wipe out.

I thought about a hammer which could be too loud and rude. I guess I will have to open the cover and use some tool to destroy the platters inside.
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quizwedge earned 300 total points
ID: 34978621
Perhaps it would be something you could set up and let run overnight. Then you wouldn't have to worry about billing for the hours you were at the client. Alternatively, they could just store the hard drives somewhere instead of destroying them. Not sure how secure the wipe needs to be. Even wiping a disk someone with enough time, money, and patience could potentially get something.

Some other suggestions on how to destroy a hard drive:
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r20273067-Best-way-to-physically-destroy-hard-drive
http://hubpages.com/hub/destroy-hard-drive
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by:szichen
ID: 34978684
agree with quizwedge, u should probably charge 2 hours per disk for the work because u can let it run overnight. of course 4 hour charge is not bad if they all run simultaneoously.

to be honest, it only takes 5 - 10 minnutes to get it running and then you leave it and check on it every now and then.
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by:techcity
ID: 34978713
Thanks quizwedge for the URLs.
I like the idea to use the hard drives as a shooting target :-)
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by:quizwedge
ID: 34978740
Just remember that the only safe way to make sure no ones gets the data is to never let the hard drives out of your sight or blowing them to smitherines. That being said, if you shot it a number of times, took it apart, and deposited it in different dumps, so long as you don't have information on the drives that has to be disposed of in a certain way for legal or national security reasons, you'll probably be OK.
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by:Jordanlcn
ID: 34978824
How about a high power magnet. and run it over each HD.  That should be more than enough to wipe out what ever is are on the disks.
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by:Jordanlcn
ID: 34978874
Scratch my previous post.  You would need a very big magnet for that.

What I would suggest is a Sledge hammer then a plasma cutter.
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by:Jordanlcn
ID: 34978955
For a more spectacular show you can do this.

Anti-Forensic HD Disposal
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 50 total points
ID: 34979040
If a hammer's too noisy how about drilling holes in the platters instead? There's even a commercial disk destroyer that works on that principle - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/05/edr_hard_disk_crusher/
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by:michko
michko earned 50 total points
ID: 34979971
I work for a government office, and we just use DBAN, http://www.dban.org/

Just build a boot disk (or cd), set it to DOD wipe standards, and set it to automatically run (note - do NOT accidentally put this in a pc you need).  Then put in in the drive and boot the pc.  As long as you built it to run automatically, you don't have any other time invested.  Yes, it will take anywhere from a few hours to sometimes a few days, depending on the size of the drive, that is simply because it takes quite a few passes (5 I believe) overwriting the disk sector by sector.  I wouldn't charge the customer for the actual run time, just the time to hook up the pc and boot to the disk.  Then take down time, of course. ...

Once you have the boot disk/CD built, it is actually faster than pulling apart the box, taking apart the hd, destroying the platters, etc.  It just takes up some space on the bench for a while.

I will admit though, there is some satisfaction to be had in a good physical destruction :)

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by:seanyc111
seanyc111 earned 50 total points
ID: 34980092
Tune up utilities is good it has a program called shredder. it has different settings for shredding files some take long but it has quicker ones
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by:techcity
ID: 34982798
Seanyc111, do you have the URL? I could not find it somehow
thanks
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by:quizwedge
ID: 34982881
techcity Many tools have options to wipe that allow you to set the number of passes or how long it should work. Using a quicker option means a less secure wipe.

DOD used to have a standard of I believe 7 passes. Now overwriting data is no longer allowed. Instead an NSA approved degausser must be used. HTTP://end.Wikipedia.org/wiki/data_remanence#standards
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Author Closing Comment

by:techcity
ID: 34983016
Thank you all for the great input!
I would go for the route of physical destroy.
Have a great weekend!
J
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by:andyalder
ID: 34984256
You mean have a *smashing* weekend :)
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by:techcity
ID: 34985369
:-)

Just an update, the job is done!
I have removed all the hard drives from the computers, opened them up, broke the "read/write heads", bended and scratched the plates using a screw driver.
The plates in two IBM hard drives were made of glass like materials. When I tried to bend them, they smashed into pieces. This was a surprise.


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