Old desktop computer disposal

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Old 12-11-18, 12:43 PM
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Old desktop computer disposal

This is probably 8 yrs old and doubt that it has any valuable personal data, but just to be safe, would dropping it 10 ft onto concrete eliminate any chances of compromise. I would then dispose of properly.
 
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Old 12-11-18, 01:11 PM
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No, probably won't do anything other than scratch the pavement. Open up the case and remove the hard drive. Then drill a few holes through it making sure you hit the platters.
 
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Old 12-11-18, 02:01 PM
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Thanks, I'll do that. Always get a good quick response on this forum.
 
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Old 12-12-18, 08:33 PM
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You may consider donating it to Goodwill or similar. I'm not sure what their limitations on how old a computer they will accept, but technology isn't moving as quickly as it used to.

I would still remove the hard drive and treat it to a few holes as mentioned, but the computer itself may still have some life in it. Maybe!
 
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Old 12-13-18, 04:34 AM
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In addition to taking the above precautions, if you want to add another precaution, you can format the drive if the computer is still working.
Power the computer up, right click on the C drive & choose format. It will check the drive, then will give you a warning: there is data on this drive are you sure? All data will be erased!

Choose "yes" or whatever to continue to format that drive. Everything will be erased.

Just FYI, you never completely erase a drive. Data is always left behind. Hackers, the government etc always have software that can retrieve data but the ordinary person wont be able to get it once its erased. Then burn it, drill holes in it... whatever you want to do.
 
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Old 12-13-18, 10:58 AM
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For what it's worth, I wouldn't just format the drive. It's trivial with lots of different types of software to recover data that's on a formatted drive.

Though there is an option when you do format to overwrite zeros on the drive first. (in Windows, the command is /p:1). Once you do that, your data is pretty darned safely removed. While there are ways to potentially recover it, you're talking about thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to do it, in a very specialized manner - not something that will generally be done.

At an old government job, they had a hard drive shredder for just this purpose. Picture a refrigerator-sized paper shredder, but outputting 1/4" squares of aluminum and whatever else a hard drive is made of. They were pretty serious about their data destruction.
 
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Old 12-13-18, 11:01 AM
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You most likely won't be able format the drive if you start the PC using the drive. It will be 'in use'.
I would install it in your new PC as a second drive and then use a drive clearing software to erase and rewrite or shred all the data with 1s and 0s.

Or leave it in the new PC as extra storage.
 
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Old 12-13-18, 06:22 PM
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Reformatting does very little to prevent data being recovered that erasing doesn't. And either can be reversed just through the use of publicly-available software. Even deleting partitions doesn't make data disappear. I have an "over-the-counter" commercial software ($40) than can recover files after a hard drive has been un- and -repartitioned, even multiple times. I tested it myself to be sure and was shocked it was that capable.

The technology exists to pull the data from any surviving piece of a platter that is at least as large as a complete physical sector, but now we're talking a technology available almost exclusively to state actors and recovery operations costing in the thousands of dollars. Any measures you take that stop short of physically destroying the platters don't destroy the data, it just narrows the range of people who have the time, the money, the technology, the skill, and the want to recover it. If you're safeguarding state secrets or the pass code to your numbered account at the Lichtenstein Global Trust Bank, it's best if you hire a data security company that offers "mechanical disintegration." They chop the platters into such small pieces that no single sector remains complete and intact.

But that's hardly necessary if all you're protecting is your Fakebook password and your browsing history. A proper disk wiping puts your data beyond the capabilities of all but a tiny fraction of the evil-doers who might have designs on your personal information.

Probably the highest-regarded wiping software at the moment is Darik's Boot and Nuke. Yeah, it's got a kitschy name but it's serious software. DBAN comes as a Linux disk image that can be written to a thumb drive and made bootable. Because it's bootable, the OS is running from the thumb drive so the hard drive you're wanting to wipe in unencumbered. And because it's Linux it doesn't give a hoot in a holler for Windows' security measures (so it has no compunction with blasting your Windows files to kingdom come). DBAN's main flaw is it doesn't overwrite sectors that previously have been marked as 'Bad,' so if you've run a "chkdsk" and some bad sectors were found and marked, some small bits of data could survive.

In the olden days, there even was a DoD standard wiping software but it required multiple passes (= time consuming) to eliminate the possibility of data recovery by magnetic force microscope (which literally can tell the ones from the zeroes on the surface of the platter by its magnetic charge). But MFM scanning always was a slow, expensive and painstaking process because you're scanning the hard drive at -- guess what? -- the microscopic level. But today's hard drives have a much higher data density than just six or eight years ago (which explains how they get 5 TB of storage on the same 3-1/2" hard drive that 30 years ago only held 10 MB) so a single pass with DBAN is adequate.

If you want even more security for very little additional overhead (and I don't see why you wouldn't), drill some holes in it. Drill several spaced around the case and you're highly likely to hit a controller board, which renders the hard drive's internal circuitry nonfunctional. Then there's nothing can be done (if you're looking to recover data from it) except remove the platters and put them in another case. Which certainly is possible, it just further narrows the range of people who have the capability and raises the expense of the recovery operation.

As manufactured, the innards of a hard drive case is its own tiny little "clean room," usually even filled with a protective (dust and moisture-free) atmosphere. So besides busting a circuit board, drilling through the platters lets out the protective atmosphere, lets in air, dust, and humidity, not to mention drill swarf and other contaminants. So even if you don't ruin the platters, you've dramatically shortened their life span by letting all the grit and grime in.

It's been my experience that platters are so rigid, unless you use some tiny drill bit (and why would you?) a harmonic sets up with the spinning drill bit and they shatter. Which is even better security than holes (but still not perfect).

If your intent is to render them as useless as possible, I highly recommend using them as a small arms target. Funnest way I know of to "wipe data." Just be careful of ricochets if you use them as clay pigeons.

I tend to use old hard drives as additional storage in the new PC. Most desktops have a power supply adequate to run two HDDs, which gives you added storage (I'm an information packrat and never seem to have enough). Move your page file/swap file to the second hard drive and there's also a small boost in performance to be had. And if my desktops are full up, I buy enclosures that convert an internal hard drive into an external USB drive. I'm partial to VanTec (brand) enclosures. You can get their USB3 enclosures for a 3-1/2" HDD on eBay for
 
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Old 12-14-18, 04:55 AM
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If the computer is going to be scrapped, take the 6 or so screws out for the cover, remove the hard drive and take a hammer to it and throw it back in the case.

Then check with your city or county for an electronic disposal day and you've done your green thing for the day!
 
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Old 12-14-18, 05:57 AM
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For an 8 year old desktop, that should be around a 80-120 gig drive: still big enough to be useful for storage.
I'd check the drive specs (SATA/EIDE) and get a $25-$45 "hard drive enclosure" from ebay or amazon, then re-purpose the old hard drive into a ~100 gig network/USB drive for storing movies, music etc.
 
 

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