Sunday, September 7, 2014

Downsizing, Part Three - Destroying Hard Drives

In Which We Enter ... Hard Drive Hell

There were at least five of these monsters lurking in our basement!

We'd been putting it off for years. Why take the effort and time to take apart and deal with our old desktop computers when they can sit on shelves in the far reaches of the basement, not bothering anyone? As I've shown in a previous post, we have plenty of basement shelving.

Two of our many basement Gorilla Rack shelving units.

But the collection of old computers, keyboards, mice, monitors, and printers (not to mention fax machines and copiers and old telephone systems) was getting out of control. Way out of control. They were taking up too much space and collecting dust, and who needs to keep huge old computers from fifteen years ago, anyway? It seemed important at the time to keep each one for security and backup when we brought a new computer into the home, but now, so many years later ... not so much.

Besides, we have this downsizing thing going on. It was time to deal with them. And that meant taking out the hard drives and destroying them.

It turns out that it's a PAIN IN THE BUTT. The internet said to unscrew the tiny screws on each corner of the hard drive case, separate the parts, take out the disk, break the disk in pieces. Not a huge deal, right? Well, the internet was wrong.

First, we took the computers apart just to get the hard drives out. Big job. My son and husband worked on it while watching a soccer game on TV, and it took a while, several hours maybe. Then they put the sides back on and donated the gutted computers to Goodwill (they accept them like that, no problem).

See the tiny ridged tip of the screwdriver bit? Maybe if you squint?

Second, the aforementioned tiny screws! Richard and I looked high and low for something that would work on them, but they turned out to be some specialty thing in a weird shape. "Security screws," the lady at the hardware store told us, shaking her head. "Sorry, we don't carry them." She did, however, point us in the right direction. "Look for a T-7. I think it might be a T-7." Richard finally ended up getting the correct one as part of a bigger set on Amazon. It wasn't a T-7, but a few sizes larger. Those little screws were a pain in the butt, for sure.

The miniature set, with the destructo screwdrivers!

Third, once we had the proper tool, the screws themselves were easy to get out. But then the two sections of the hard drive refused to separate. I believe the internet mentioned super-heavy-duty magnets...? Maybe? We finally resorted to taking screwdrivers and wedging them open a few millimeters at a time, with plenty of elbow grease and cussing. Several were opened by sliding the cover sideways with an obscene amount of effort. Two of the five never got more than half an inch opened, like the one pictured below.

One of the failures.

Fourth, of the ones we did manage to open, we found we couldn't get the disks off their holder. Bummer! What a thing to discover after so much effort! The things must be made to fall out of an airplane, or to be driven over by a war tank, jeez! (Then why do computers crash so often, hmmm?)

Fifth, we showed those disks a thing or two by using the screwdrivers to scratch the crap out of them, at least for the disks we could reach. Unfortunately for us...there were two disks in each drive, one on top of the other, with (it appeared) both sides active. We figured if we couldn't get to the second one, then no one else would be able to either. Right?

Maybe we'll get back to them later and do more destructo work. I've heard you can take sledgehammers to them? Drill nails through them? Drill through them? Dip them in acid? Or maybe we'll decide that the scratching we did was enough.

 Hard Drive Carnage

You can easily see the scratches we made with the screwdrivers...
and my reflection as I shot this image! 

Don't tell Richard, but I thought prying them apart was kind of fun!

...So there it is. Not so easy to destroy a hard drive!

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