Secure erase

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16 Responses:

  1. joshuag says:

    I wonder if, given an SPM and all the time needed, if you could recover a usable amount of data from a drive so disposed of.

    • thielges says:

      I heard that the NSA used to run their HDs through a grinder to powderize the platters for that reason. You only need to go to those extremes when the loss of someone intercepting your data exceeds millions of dollars.

      HDs, especially the older models from the 90s, are built like tanks and hard to physically destroy. I tried smashing one with a 15 pound sledge hammer. It took quite a few whacks just to breach the cast metal enclosure and expose the platters. After that I switched to hand disassembly to expose the platters and then use a degausser. Not as cathartic as the sledge but faster and more effective.

    • tfb says:

      Some of the data on disks aboard Columbia was recovered. I don't know what condition they were in, but presumably not good: I suspect that whole platters survived although I'm not sure.

      I like it that the search I did to check my memory revealed that this data helped

      [...] verify theories explaining why ketchup and canned whipped cream have a liquid appearance when they're dispensed and become more firm afterward.

  2. bob says:

    Don't forget to remove the magnets.

    They are very useful around the house, and if you have enough, as abstract sculpture.

  3. Nick Lamb says:

    "I must inform you that your chemical, biological and nuclear stockpiles are completely disorganised"/ "[...] On a political level?" / "No. A molecular level. We teleported them into the sun fifteen minutes ago."

    Thermite? I always write "Thermite" in the instructions for disposal that I know my corporate employers won't actually implement. Surely a country which lets random idiots fire a machine gun in the desert will let you do your own thermite disposal?

  4. Andrew Macpherson says:

    Nope. If you wanna delete it all, use a blowtorch, not pliers.

    On the other hand, if you're really looking for some theatrically impressive violent destruction, The Guardian's treatment of their Snowden copies is the high-bar to aim for. Don't underestimate the importance of the press conference with dead drives on the table.

  5. Zygo says:

    Welp, that's 750GB of data you're not getting back...

  6. XuppdduX says:

    Of course this would be the post on me Smokey Robinson's b-day ... where I'm contemplating the eventual jaws of life destruction of my site in the clown ... before I can get a copy

  7. Arthur Hampton says:

    Now take your cutting tool and write "Reasonable Suspicion" on the handles, because I shouldn't be the only one with that written on the handles. Thanks in advance.

  8. Anon-kun says:

    For anybody seriously interested on destroying data:
    - Prevention is best: Encrypt your disks to facilitate lifecycle management. It'll make your life easier when your disks break, are lost, stolen or otherwise need to be disposed of.
    - Overwrite with random data. Even if it's fast random data (look up frandom, for Linux).
    - Then use the SATA secure erase if driver supports that, to take care of remapped/spare blocks too.
    Consider physical destruction only after overwriting with random data.

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