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I have an old laptop that has a motherboard problem that I want to get rid of. It does not boot, nor run the bios POST.

I'm sensitive about leaving information on the hard drive. What is a good way of erasing the information on the hard drive of a dead computer, before disposing of the unit?

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Hilarious replies. However, I was thinking more on the line of not destroying the HD, so that the computer can be used for parts. Are there any USB cable you can buy that will fit different types of HD, and then what software would do a good job of erasure. –  Phillip Ngan Nov 7 '09 at 20:40
    
I actually answered that! Yes, you can buy a USB enclosure for 2.5" hard drives for under $20 US. –  CarlF Nov 7 '09 at 23:51
    
Check this question, it seems to be the same situation, almost: superuser.com/questions/4678/… –  Gnoupi Nov 7 '09 at 23:53
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9 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Given that you want to hook the drive up to another machine (and given plenty of good answers for how to destroy the drive)

You want something like: IDE USB adapter, which will allow you to plug from drive into USB. You'll be able to over-write the data, unless your adversary wants to disassemble the drive (to maybe read bad blocks, plus whatever the USB can't reach?).

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Use thermite. What's thermite, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it's "a pyrotechnic composition of aluminium powder and a metal oxide which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction."

As you can see in this video, it's stuff that gets really hot and burns through almost anything, including a metal hard drive.

more helpful tips here: Removing hard drive data -- the YouTube way

on a more serious note:

if you want to re-use the HDD, wipe the disk with Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) and you're good to go.

DBAN is freeware.

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Remove the hard disk. Depending on how paranoid you are:

  1. Install the drive in another PC, and if it's writeable, use a disk-wiping program.
  2. Hit it with sledgehammer several times.
  3. Dissolve it in aqua regia.
  4. Bury it in the foundation of a building.

EDIT: of course, for real security you could use a disk-wiping program, hit it with a sledgehammer, dissolve the fragments in aqua regia, then bury the neutralized aqua regia in the foundations of a building.

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+1 best answer by far. excepting thermite, cause hey, it's thermite. –  quack quixote Nov 8 '09 at 0:20
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Although not meant for this, I usually use TrueCrypt to wipe any sensitive data from a HDD. Encrypt the drive, and force TC to zero out the drive during encrypting. After it's done you can just format the drive and you're good to go.

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Take the hard drive out, remove the platter, smash it with a hammer.

Alternatively, you can take the laptop out and hook it up to another computer with one of these - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A0O1D2 and then format, though this is much less secure of a data erasure than physical destruction.

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Smash it up the old fashioned power drill way. That ought to be the safest bet.

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If the discs inside the harddrive are based on glass, just drive four large nails through the entire drive on strategical locations. You will hear it breaking. (Do this BEFORE you open the drive because that kind of glass really shatters alot.)

If it doesn't shatter(disks based on metal and not glass), open the drive, pick out the disks and get creative.

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Two possibilities - one is DBAN- as has been suggested before. The other is the linux 'shred' command - which is specifically designed for this.

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Hook it up to a Linux machine. Let us assume it is /dev/sda and mounted on /mnt/oldhd. You can then use the following (untested, but you get the idea):

cat /dev/urandom > /mnt/oldhd/foo.txt

In the past I've created a little C program that write blocks of zeros to a file on a given partition until it is full, and repeated a few times for added peace of mind. At the end, you can delete the files that were created.

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