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Dispose or Recycle Hard Drive

I have some old hard drives that I want dispose. I don't have access to compatible hardware to erase the contents. What is a simple, safe and effective way to ensure that the data can no longer be read?

Also, how do I recycle hard drives? Do they require special handling for environmental reasons?

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marked as duplicate by sblair, Nifle, ChrisF, ultrasawblade, Shiki Jul 19 '11 at 11:30

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sledgehammer –  Aki Jul 19 '11 at 11:10

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Strong rare Earth magnets should thoroughly erase the contents. Then a hammer or electric drill will effectively ruin the platters.

They should be disposed of along with all other computer equipment. They contain heavy metals and rare Earth elements themselves that should not be spread in the environment.

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The reality is that many people have tried this, and the magnets people can get, or even if they make a strong electro-magnet, their tests show that they don't usually do much to the drive as the case shields it too much. I recently had a lot (too many to hammer) to destroy, so what I did was disassemble the drive, and take out the platters, which are made of aluminum in most cases, and bathed them in muriatic acid from a hardware store. It literally ate them to a paper coating on the platters. Just make sure the bucket is not near anything that can be corroded, and wear glasses as it fizzles. –  KCotreau Jul 19 '11 at 11:46

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