Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a few dozen old iomega ZIP disks (100MB and 250MB) that I found cleaning house and I'd like to bulk erase them without mounting them on a computer. Any suggestions?

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In the category of "get creative" I offer the following option (sans giant hammer.) It is quite easy to pry off the metal part that slides to allow access to the inner disc (use a small screwdriver, for example.) Then use a couple of larger screwdrivers to pry open the case to expose the inner disc media. Snatch it out with some needle-nose pliers and voila! Toss the plastic, shred the disc in a normal paper shredded.

share|improve this answer

If you want to use them again, the only safe way is to mount and format it. (For secure wipe, obviously use special tools - this will take even longer).

If you don't want to use them again - stick them in a shredder or have some fun and be creative.

share|improve this answer
I don't need to use them again, but they are too big to fit through a shredder. They have a thick, hard-shell case. (Think: 3.5" disk on steroids.) – Peter Murray Jul 24 '10 at 22:09
@Peter Murray - I know how big zip disks are, I just didn't know how big your shredder was! - This is a waste and you may regret it in the future, but you can hit with a hammer to shatter the case, then (if it is big enough) run the media through a shredder... Or, just take a bit of time and go through them on a computer - even if you leave it running and just one a day! – William Hilsum Jul 24 '10 at 22:13
Oh, I have a simple cross-cut paper shredder, so it won't work for the media. I may need to take one of your other suggestions. – Peter Murray Jul 24 '10 at 22:32
Sorry about my ignorance of Zip disks, I don't know them well, but do they have a thin flimsy disk inside that you can throw in the shredder? – TheLQ Jul 25 '10 at 6:20
@TheLQ: They do: – oKtosiTe Jan 25 '11 at 17:31

Have you tried using a very large magnet? IIRC, Zip drives are magnetic, so a large enough magnet (one from a hard drive?) should erase the contents.

share|improve this answer
I think I have a tape degausser around here somewhere. I'll try that or an old speaker driver magnet and see what happens. – Peter Murray Jul 25 '10 at 0:27
And it will probably erase the low level formatting, which IIRC can't be replaced by the consumer. – Hello71 Jul 25 '10 at 0:32
From my experience a permanent magnet may not work as well as you think... and you have to mount it on a computer to be sure it did, assuming you plan to sell/donate the media later. Been there done that - didn't work for me. See my answer for alternative. – hotei Jul 25 '10 at 0:47

A simple permanent magnet won't reliably erase them unless the magnet is ULTRA-strong. What you'll need is an AC powered bulk tape eraser (Radio Shack used to sell them years ago when Reel-2-Reel tapes were popular). It's just a 3 pound coil of wire that generates a strong 60 cycle magnetic field. A minute or so in that field and your magnetic disk is going to be pretty random. This works because the Zip plastic shield is transparent to the magnetic field. Won't work on disks in metal cases.

HOWEVER - Since you don't need them again I'd go the BIG hammer route. Unless your data is very very very important nobody is going to bother once the disc is seriously bent up. (Umm that bending comment was for Iomega Jaz disk - just use scissors on flexible media inside Zip.)


share|improve this answer
  • hatchet will "fix" the data

  • fire- to melt them a little bit (complete burning is not necessary)

  • if you have old hard disk you can use the magnets, but is not reliable

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .