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My laptop display was failing so I sent it back to Acer for repairs. As I was just between trips, I didn't find the time to do proper backups. The idea was that it's the display that was failing, not the hard drive.

The lack of proper backups turned out to be a grave mistake on my part. Acer returned the laptop with the display fixed and the hard drive switched for a new one. Upon inquiry I was only told that my former hard drive was found to be failing a test and was to be disposed of, and that its whereabouts is internal information.

I admit I was sloppy and made a mistake, but Acer's approach doesn't strike me as very sensible either.

So the question is, where do the HDDs go? Where to ask?

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Acer said that was private information, it may go back to the HD manufacturer, repaired by a 3rd party and resold/reused, or destroyed, who knows, and Acer won't say and they are the only ones that would know for sure. –  Moab Apr 20 '11 at 23:26
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Sounds like they've disposed of it. I imagine the PR risk for them for accidentally returning you the wrong hard drive will outweigh any motivation they have for pulling it out of a pile and returning it to you. I'd recommend that you consider your data stolen and start changing passwords. –  RJFalconer Apr 20 '11 at 23:27
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Acer, like any other manufacturer, has a legal obligation to all their clients (at least in Canada anyway) to keep their information private. If they reveal where old hard drives, containing their customers' personal information, are sent, then that increases the risk that someone with bad intentions could get ahold of it and gain access to that private information. Although this may be viewed as "security by obscurity," it is a legal requirement in my country (and probably others as well). –  Randolf Richardson Apr 21 '11 at 2:32

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