Secure Erase

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15 Responses:

  1. Lockywolf says:

    Unrelated, but is it possible to add a new screensaver to xscreensaver without editing either /etc/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver or ~/.xscreensaver?

    • Kyzer says:

      Also unrelated, but can you create a saver that shows the current time (including seconds) on the primary screen, but if there are additional screens, it picks a random delay between 0.05 and 0.3 seconds and consistently updates the other screens out of sync by that amount? Call it "timetroll".

      • Nick Lamb says:

        Presumably the idea here is to reduce the number of (working) screens you own to exactly one?

        Because it seems like that's the consequence if you ran this hypothetical "timetroll" on systems I have even passing access to and I can't be alone in having a fairly visceral reaction to things that "tell time" inaccurately.

      • Zygo says:

        I'm not sure what your goals are here. There are much more effective trolls:

        * pick a random time zone

        * run the clocks on each display with a random second length between 0.9 and 1.1 seconds

        * update displays every 1.1..1.9 seconds

        * display the time with AM and PM swapped (or equivalent for 24h clocks)

        * start with the current time, but increment the number fields with carry once per second (without reference to a clock), and display only those strings matching the regexp "[012][0-9]:[0-5][0-8]:[0-6][1-689]"

      • margaret says:

        would be a fun sysadmin interview question: "ntp on these monitors is off by a fraction of a second. what would you do to get them back in sync?"

  2. Nibby says:

    This gives me the most unexpected serene feels of your secure erase art series.

  3. Johan says:

    Some of these things are built like tanks. I recently tried a variant of this Secure Erase on an old WD drive using a hammer and nails and failed. Just stone cold failed. I threw it into the concrete a few times and left it in the rain for a while but it felt... unsatisfying.

    • Zygo says:

      A while back I looked up how much energy you'd need to cast the metal in a hard drive, and how long you'd have to run the hard drive for it to use that much energy.

      For a mix of steel and aluminum, industry standard energy for metal casting per ton multiplied by typical weight and divided by typical power consumption for a 3.5" spinning hard drive under heavy IO load works out to a little over 3 days. SSDs and 2.5" HDDs don't use as much power, but they're made of materials that degrade at lower temperatures and they have less mass, so 4 days is a good upper bound for any drive from the last 20 years or so.

      Obviously there are some practical problems with insulating a box well enough that a 7W heater could make aluminum and steel slag. Also most storage stacks will keep trying to kick the drive out of the pool when the solder melts, so the drive won't maintain the maximum power draw. Fortunately physics doesn't care about software, so you can just connect the 7W power supply directly to the drive's metal casing to achieve the desired effect.

  4. phuzz says:

    At work we use one of the companies that comes round with a massive metal shredder in the back of a lorry for destroying our harddrives.
    Even though I'm a grown adult, I still always ask if I can have a go at dropping the hard drives in, so I can watch them get munched.
    SSDs just aren't as satisfying.

  5. Bob says:

    At my last job, I spent a lot of down time disassembling old drives, and removing the magnets to make "sculptures" of the magnets I had removed.

    It was quite relaxing unless there was blood involved.

    I had a large amount of old drives, some were much easier to extract the magnets from than others.

    I would just toss the old platters into the trash.

  6. Bruce H says:

  7. ducksauz says:

    Just add Thermite. :-D

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