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Data Storage Hardware

The 'Three Ton' Hard Drive Destroyer 206

Barence writes "Last year, PC Pro welcomed a DIY-style hard-disk destroyer into its Labs to wreak havoc on some unsuspecting platters. Now the technology has moved on, with the Ideal 0101 — a device that pierces disks with between 2.5 and 3 tons of force. 'It's not the quick cut-and-shut process you'd assume it is,' says PC Pro's reviewer. 'Instead, the 0101 seems to enjoy its particular method of torture.The punch emerges from the side of the bay, slowing piercing its way through metal, silicon and glass, before retreating once the disk is destroyed.'" I attached a video clip.

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The 'Three Ton' Hard Drive Destroyer

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  • recycling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:30AM (#35867762)
    anyone else manually dismantle the things and remove the magnets because they're decently strong?
    • Re:recycling (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:33AM (#35867804)
      I use them as fridge magnets. I've even made a few clocks with the platters, it's a fun project to teach the kids that just because something is useless for its original purpose it doesn't mean you can't use it for something else.
      • I've given the platters to my girl fiend as purse mirrors. I also keep one in my car for when people have their high beams on behind me. Not sure why, but the surface is a near perfect mirror. And since it's not really deformable (brittle, not elastic) the image is always near perfect. Minus the hole in the center.

        If you can toss them correctly they also fly rather well, requires you to snap the wrist.

        I just don't see how this destroys 'everything'. A small hole like than in only a portion of the disk will

        • Re:recycling (Score:4, Informative)

          by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:46AM (#35867964)

          I've given the platters to my girl fiend as purse mirrors. I also keep one in my car for when people have their high beams on behind me. Not sure why, but the surface is a near perfect mirror. And since it's not really deformable (brittle, not elastic) the image is always near perfect. Minus the hole in the center.

          If you can toss them correctly they also fly rather well, requires you to snap the wrist.

          I just don't see how this destroys 'everything'. A small hole like than in only a portion of the disk will still leave quite a bit of data.

          There is a certain cutoff year where most of the pre-whatever drives are aluminum platter and the post-whatever drives are glass platter. Everyone whom does what we do, eventually has the "shattering" experience of discovering their first glass platter hard drive. And being precision ground surfaces they can't be prestressed like car windows, they leave some very nasty sharp jagged chunks of glass. Keep the 1st aid kit handy...

          The large old aluminum ones (think 5.25 or bigger) also rang with a clang you cannot believe if dropped on a tile floor. Deafening, almost. Don't try with the glass platters.

          • There is a certain cutoff year where most of the pre-whatever drives are aluminum platter and the post-whatever drives are glass platter.

            This does not seem to be true across all manufacturers. I dismantle all of our drives before disposal, and I've only come across glass platters in laptop drives (they seem to have been glass all the way back to the early 1990s, the earliest one I disassembled was from 1992 and had glass platters). All of the 3.5" drives have had aluminum platters, from the cheap 5400 RPM drives to 10000 RPM drives from servers.

            It's possible that some manufacturers use glass platters in certain model lines of drives,

            • by vlm ( 69642 )

              Now that you mention it, the one that chopped my hand up (didn't quite need stitches) was a laptop drive from the early 00s. Also found glass platters in double-digit-gig high RPM (for their era, anyway) SCA SCSIs.

              For obvious reasons I don't try to pry stuck platters out anymore, so I don't know the ratios on modern drives.

            • by skids ( 119237 )

              I've only found glass in the sub-3.5" class drives, more often than not. I've never shattered a platter, because unlike everyone else I know, I prefer to unscrew all the screws first and take them apart that way, rather than the prying with a screwdriver approach. It's more satisfying, like a puzzle, to figure out exactly what order to take things out for a given model.

              • IBM Desk Star drives of the 20-30 gig size were the first 3.5 inch drives I encountered that were glass.

            • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

              Glass is merely an alternative platter base material to aluminum. There are advantages to it (very good heat stability, for example) so it depends on the model. They've been around since the 90s.

              IBM DeskStars were probably the most common consumer drives with them, but the other manufacturers all had their own as well. These days it's probably even more a mess trying to figure out if a drive has glass or aluminum platters. I'm willing to bet even submodels of a particular model line vary - one submodel will

      • The best thing is that when they check the time they are also getting an eyeful of porn.
        • The best thing is that when they check the time they are also getting an eyeful of porn.

          Brilliant. I'm saving that one for my son's wedding speech!

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Yes. I have a giant collection of jars full of various HD components. I have one of those giant plastic pretzel containers full of the heads. I can't fit any more in there, so I've been getting around to removing the bearings for later, and chucking the alloy, to make space. See! I threw something away! Please don't call the horder TV show people!

    • by paiute ( 550198 )

      anyone else manually dismantle the things and remove the magnets because they're decently strong?

      I took an old hard drive apart several years ago to get the magnets. Played with them a bit, then stuck them on a metallic surface in the garage and forgot about them. Sometime after, I was replacing a picture window. The frame was held in place by some large finish nails which had been sunk way below the surface of the wood and in places not that obvious. I went and found the old magnets. It turned out that if I let one rest on top of my finger and then ran the finger slowly down the frame, the magnet wou

  • Kind of silly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:32AM (#35867776) Homepage

    A drill press works faster and is a lot cheaper. granted it does not have bright green lights and a lot of over-engineering, but hey.

    Can they make it do some laser effects and add a smoke machine so it looks really cool?

    • I prefer taking the cover off and gently applying an oxy-acetylene torch, warming the platters to between the curie temperature and melting point (to taste). Melting point is FAR more fun.
      • Too much unscrewing, though you could "flux cut" the stainless using your torch by holding some carbon steel wire or welding rod between the flame and the stainless. It's the way industrial scarfing torches work.

      • by skids ( 119237 )

        If you have an old electric coil hot-plate, melting them on the coil can make some pretty interesting artistic patterns for wind mobiles. I would not recommend trying it on your cooking stove, however -- you have to keep an eye on it and turn off the heat right away or you'll slag the coil.

    • Arguably, if you really want satisfying over-engineering, an induction furnace would be the way to go: Just drop the drive into the intimidating coil, turn on the power, and watch all the metal components glow red and then slump into a molten mess of slag. Game over man. Game Over.
    • A drill press works faster and is a lot cheaper.

      I would feel safer simply wiping the drive; punching a hole in it leaves most of the platter surface area intact.

      But I suppose there's always option C, "both."

    • Or if you were keen on the "crush" idea, you can pick up a 6 ton shop press for less than $100, or go overboard with a 20 ton press for around $200. They're handy to have around if you do any significant auto repair jobs too.
    • Re:Kind of silly. (Score:4, Informative)

      by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @11:36AM (#35868618)
      Even cheaper, but not as fast, is the ATA SECURE ERASE command. Wipes your data even better than DD (because it erases 'bad' sectors from the G-list too), and is built into pretty much every HDD manufactured in the last 6-10 years.

      The myth about '32 erase cycles' and similar nonsense about reading data with an AFM is pure bollocks, and has been since the introduction of MR (and later GMR, CMR and TMR) head drives nearly 20 years ago (15 for non-IBM drives).
    • Even that's overkill.

      sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdx

      Good luck recovering anything from that on a modern drive.

      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        I am lazier -- because I use TC with smart card encryption, with keyfiles on an IronKey drive.

        Zeroing out the data on the drive just means unmounting the volumes, and formatting the smart card, or forcing the IronKey (only the Basic one can do this) to erase all the data and regenerate new keys. For safety, I do a zero pass, but it isn't really needed.

        For Windows, I use BitLocker To Go, and post Vista, the Format command in Windows zeroes out the encrypted key sectors so unless someone saved off the unencr

        • by gknoy ( 899301 )

          Erased and encrypted (with a lost key) are not the same thing. A dedicated attacker could likely have a fun time with the latter, as there's potential for a fair bit of known-plaintext. ... of course, most of us are likely to encounter such an attacker. At work, maybe, but then we'd be doing wipe+destroy processes. At home, meh. I can't even give away old monitors, so Idoubt anyone'd end up with one of my drives.

          • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

            If done right, encrypted with a lost key can pretty much mean the data is not accessible:

            1: A diffuser needs to be used. This prevents an attacker from seeing the contents of sector 8 are the same as sector 5. TrueCrypt uses XTS mode. BitLocker uses AES-CBC and Elephant. Without this, it is easy to find patterns in the encrypted data.

            2: A keyfile must be used. Passphrases can be brute-forced. A keyfile ensures that an attacker has to guess out of the whole keyspace.

            3: The drive must be completely e

      • by daid303 ( 843777 )

        Shredding a harddrive, the linux way: [] (shred /dev/sdx)
        It's for the paranoid, that think after writing everything with zeros some data can be recovered (which I think is impossible)

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

        Data is considered recoverable for under 3 passes of random data. From what I read, the binary data on your harddrive is stored as an analog wave, so it is very possible to recover most, if not all, of the data if you just do a single pass of zeros.

        Your best bet is 3+ passes of random data.

        My last job as IT at my uni required a 5 pass NSA wipe of all working drives before leaving the uni, or physical destruction of them. All "dead" drives had to be destroyed since we couldn't wipe them properly. I still hav

  • After you recover the magnets of course.
  • "disks with between 2.5 and 3 tons of force"

    "That’s enough power, according to Duplo, to theoretically lift a truck, so you can be sure it’ll put a rather large dent in the average hard disk."

    Now I'm rather confused. I'm pretty sure they mean pressure not force, since I honestly doubt that a 2.5 'ton' of force is needed to punch through a hard disk.

    Now when the 'truck lifting' part got mentioned it only made things worse.

    • Re:Force? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @11:01AM (#35868154)

      I'm pretty sure they mean pressure not force, since I honestly doubt that a 2.5 'ton' of force is needed to punch through a hard disk

      No they almost certainly mean force. Shop presses are sold by force. 1000 psi hydraulic tubing, fittings, pump, and o-rings vs some diameter (area is what actually matters) ram equals X tons. The shop press manufacturer has no idea what shape die you'll install. If its a wedge, I guess the area is theoretically zero at the point and the pressure is infinite. More likely limited by the compression strength of the metal in the die.

      Here's a Harbor Freight Chinese 20 ton press, less than $300 delivered. []

      Chinese presses used to be famous for shipping with cast iron plates instead of steel plates. People die or are horribly wounded when the cast iron inevitably shatters. So be careful and/or buy or make your own steel plates. Another thing to look out for is Chinese "1000 psi" fittings and hoses might not actually survive 1000 psi when brand new, much less after years of abuse. So buying a press 10 times bigger than you think you need is not all that bad of an idea, assuming you can afford it.

  • Thermite is cheap. Granted, a device capable of actually holding a melting hard drive might be more expensive, but I have to imagine that taking a trip to an appropriate location several times a year would be relatively cheap. It'd certainly be a lot more fun.

    • by Caradoc ( 15903 )
      Or a bucket of liquid nitrogen and a sledgehammer. Don't forget to wear safety goggles.
    • by Zeek40 ( 1017978 )
      A small crucible built out of brick, cinder blocks or pavers works, and is cheap. If you use pavers, you can even flip them over and re-use them in your lawn.
    • Firebrick, while not necessarily on offer at your local hardware store, is not too difficult to come by. Failing(or supplementing) that, sand exposed to thermite won't necessarily be in mint condition; but sand is extremely cheap, and there is nothing stopping you from just using a slightly thicker layer, and you can't beat the convenience of something you can get in big bags from most hardware/garden supply stores or by the ton from landscaping/construction contractor suppliers.

      Just remember, though, Ke
  • This seems like a very expensive way to not destroy a hard drive.

    Forensics buffs could probably restore a lot of the data on a hard drive that's just had a hole put it in.

    Beating it senseless with a hammer & chisel will have a similar efficiency, but will be a lot cheaper.
    • Probably everything, even from the sectors that had the holes (assuming no significant demagnetisation due to friction). Electron microscopy and other techniques can go a loooong way.

      I'm not an expert btw.
    • I suspect that the real purpose of such a device(aside from the fact that white-collar environments, especially larger ones, often have a cultural distaste(at least during working hours) for solutions that involve just smashing stuff) is that it is probably "certified" to some or other standard, while just giving the janitor the night off and some beer money to take a sledgehammer to the junk drive box isn't, even if the degree of destruction is greater.

      While smaller, more informal, shops can probably do
    • Forget the chisel, get an Estwing rock pick. These suckers can rain destruction upon almost any man made or natural object. Depending on how violent you are feeling, you can punch a dozen holes in something in seconds. Then flip it over and smash it flat.

      Mine has been hammering rock, concrete, and metal for over 30 years and works as well as the day I got it. My great-grandkids will be beating the crap out of stuff with it long after I'm dead. []

  • Nice video, but the links from the video were almost more amusing. In particular one was

    Why business intelligence matters in 2011

    Because apparently, business intelligence did not matter prior to 2011.

  • by Pontiac ( 135778 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:42AM (#35867916) Homepage

    OK folks.. this is how the government gets it done.
    An industrial metal shredder. Nothing left bigger then a dime. []

    • lol, thats what they normally use on dead livestock
    • by rssrss ( 686344 )

      Much closer to what you really need to do to make sure that that the pictures for which you could be indicted are really gone. Although, something like a plasma torch would be better.

    • Typical government incompetence. A LOT of personal information records can fit on a dime-width single stripe of a disk.

      I advise my clients to reduce the disks to powder or liquid, if they're worried about government-level magnetic force microscopy and other forensic attacks.
  • That's no way to talk about my mother!

  • not to destroy them, but to send them out into space, in a random trajectory, like voyager 1. 300 centuries hence, our distant children, or aliens, can find them, decipher them, and find all about the wonders of cookies, porn spam, twitpics, and excel 2003, among other digital detritus of our lives

    • excel 2003? i can only imagine the following response onboard the alien mothership:

      "Nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure"

  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:50AM (#35868008)

    I use my trusty oxy-acetylene torch, it takes but a second to pierce the top cover. Once the top cover is breached the disks are vaporized almost immediately with no possible chance of recovery.

  • I didn't read the article, only saw the video, but the video shows the machine punching only one hole through the disk? That leaves all the other data intact. Or does the machine keep repeating this step for the whole area of the disk and did the video show only one of the punches?

    Anyway, why does the force even matter? If it punches only one hole. Whether that hole was made with one gram or one teraton of force, it's still just one hole...

  • I expected to see the entire HDD crushed. Or maybe an array of spikes to thoroughly perforate the disk.

    A single spike? A single hole in the disk?

    I'd assume the controller and electronics are toast... But I bet that if you were sufficiently motivated you could mount those platters in a new box and recover a good chunk of data.

  • ... the big aluminum platters were great stock for machining parts. Just grind the oxide off the surface and you've got a nice blank to make stuff.

  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @11:03AM (#35868192)
    really really boring....

    Taking the thing apart is much more entertaining []...
  • Can't we just blend it? Surely we all know everything can blend! []
  • Is public geek masturbation (which is essentially what this story is) indecent or just a waste if our time?

    Discuss ...

  • Not even a shot of the drive after the crush. It gets withdrawn out the back of the crusher, no idea if it actually did anything butcrack the PCB. Lame.

  • That didn't destroy much. Someone with the correct skills and hardware could easily read that disk. Throw the damned thing in a smelter...
  • Won't piercing a hole in a hard drive just render data around the area of the hole difficult to read?
    I imagine that data in other areas of the platter will be unaffected, and subject to recovery by anyone with the appropriate tools/equipment to to do....

    Personally, i've always destroyed old hard drives using thermite which ensures that the platters are totally melted down to form an alloy with the drive casing and the molten iron create by the thermite reaction.

  • why not just use a standard press brake to chop em in half?
  • Physical force is certainly entertaining, but it's a waste of effort. If you want to destroy any magnetic recording medium, all you have to do is heat it past its Curie point. In the case of hard drives, a decently hot fire will do nicely. A bunch of waste paper and cardboard in a steel drum will burn more than hot enough. If you're still bent on brute force, disassemble the drive and use sandpaper on the platter surfaces. Dropping them into hydrochloric acid will also do the trick -- the hardware store gra

    • Fire, of various forms, might do the trick for individuals, but when trying to do something officially for a company, employee and facilities safety can be seen as an issue. An enclosed compartment that won't let you put your hand in until after the dangerous operation is done is preferable to random employees starting fires in their waste baskets :-)
  • Looks like some one could sell a safety glasses, sledge and punch kit for half the cost of that machine and a person with reasonable dexterity and strength could do just as good a job, if not better. Heck, you could probably even throw in some kind of jig to hold the parts in proper alignment and keep from accidentally destroying a hand in the process.

  • nuff said

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.