Erase data from bad hard drive

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by GaryGnu, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. GaryGnu

    GaryGnu Member

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    I am probably just being paranoid. I have a portable hard drive. It's a WD My Passport. Several months ago, I backed up all my files on it, and stored it off site. I retrieved it the other day, and tried to connect it. It's dead. It's still under warranty. WD wants me to send it back so I can get a new one. Since I cannot connect to it, I can't delete what is (was) on it.

    I don't like the idea of someone possibly being able to get data off the drive, but I want a free replacement. What steps can I take to remove the data? I've thought of dropping the thing a few times, or putting some magnets right on it.

    What else? Or am I just being paranoid?

    Gary
     
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  3. RU482

    RU482 Lifer

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    large magnet?
     
  4. corkyg

    corkyg Elite Member<br>Super Moderator <br>Peripherals
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    If you can remove the bare drive from the WD case, you might find it is OK, and what is shot is the case electronics.
     
  5. Brian Stirling

    Brian Stirling Diamond Member

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    Hammer time!


    Brian
     
  6. MichaelD

    MichaelD Lifer

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    If it is possible to open the case without breaking any warranty seals, I'd open it up and make sure the drive is still attached to the internal cabling. If not, you either send it back to WD and risk your data, or you eat it. The dead drive, not the data. And figuratively, not literally...dont' need you getting sick. I just threw away a bunch of old IDE drives. Some dead, some not. They are worth nothing on EBay. I put them on the concrete floor in the garage, gave my 3yo son a BFH and let him go to town. :D
     
  7. GaryGnu

    GaryGnu Member

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    I've got some big magnets sitting on it now. Is that going to do anything?
     
  8. dave_the_nerd

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    Set it on fire.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. DaveSimmons

    DaveSimmons Elite Member

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    If you didn't want the replacement:

    I've used a screwdriver to pop chips off of the printed circuit board and break some of the traces.

    If you have a drill, you could drill holes in the PCB instead.

    Unless this is classified intelligence information, no one is going to make the effort to transfer the PCB from a working drive to yours to get at your secrets.


    Since you do want the replacement:

    You can try the magnet.
     
    #8 DaveSimmons, Oct 3, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  10. FrankSchwab

    FrankSchwab Senior member

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    The magnet is unlikely to do anything - it's too far away from the platters to have a strong enough field to flip any bits.

    Next time, use drive encryption. When the drive fails, you'll have no concerns about people being able to read it.
     
  11. mfenn

    mfenn Elite Member <br> Currently on <BR> Moderator Sabb
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    :thumbsup:

    OP, the only way to really be sure about a dead drive is to physically destroy it. Obviously, WD isn't going to take it back like that, so you have to decide whether or not the free replacement is worth the risk. The risk of somebody looking at your data is miniscule, though you might want to destroy the drive is you have something really serious on there (like evidence of a felony or something).
     
  12. GaryGnu

    GaryGnu Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I was surprised to hear the magnets will not do anything.
     
  13. Dstoop

    Dstoop Member

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    That's not to say that magnets *wont* do anything, just that your typical fridge magnet isn't strong enough to do anything. You'd need something considerably more powerful to truly wipe the drive.

    What we do at work where we have to stay HIPAA compliant is pop it in an old system and run DBAN on it assuming the heads arent totally fudged and it actually still kinda works. If that doesnt work because the drive is physically broken, we get out the drill, take it out back, and drill a bunch of holes right through it.

    Even drives still under warranty get shipped *nowhere*, but sometimes following strict regulations means eating the extra cost of voiding the warranty. That being said, I seriously doubt anyone at the WD plant you ship your dead drive to is taking drives home and doing serious data recovery on them. Even if it gets refurbed they need to reformat the drives so they are "clean" when they get resold.
     
  14. nandtech2012

    nandtech2012 Junior Member

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    Maybe WBD(Wipe Bad Disk) would be useful for you.