You may find yourself having to destroy a hard drive or Solid state Srive by wiping its contents and disassembling its parts for ultimate security to ensure the contents in your hard drive are not recoverable to prevent a potential data leak of your personal or work related data .For instance it may be that you’re selling, donating, or recycling a computer, it’s then become critical that you ensure the data contained in the storage device doesn’t end up in the hands of unintended person(s). The first step will be to thoroughly wipe (not simply erase) your old hard drive in a method which is discussed at length in another article.

As a further insurance mechanism though you can go further and remove the hard drive from your computer before you give it away and destroy the HDD/SDD . This is not too difficult to achieve and it ensures that your old data is completely inaccessible to anyone ever again.

You will need to main tools – a Torx Screwdriver to open the HDD case and a Flathead screwdriver to pry open the case.

How to find and remove the hard disk drive from your computer

Start by removing the hard drive from your PC. If you have a desktop or tower PC, unplug it and remove the cover or side panel (some cases do not require tools and you only need to loosen some restraints, while others might require a screwdriver to remove screws).

Look for the hard drive, which will be inserted in a drive bay or screwed to the side of the chassis. In most cases, you can simply disconnect the power and data cables and slide the drive out of the computer, but it might be screwed in place, in which case you’ll need to use a Philips head screwdriver to get it out of the PC.

If you have a laptop, you might need to refer to your user guide or contact the laptop’s customer support for information on how to remove the hard drive – the access panel might be on the bottom of the case or you might need to remove the keyboard to reach the hard drive.

How to destroy a hard drive the fast way

If you’re in a hurry, you can damage it in a way that only a dedicated Expert Data Specialist will be able to recover any data.

  1. Flip the hard drive over so you can see the main circuit board.

The fast way to render a hard drive unusable is to remove the exterior circuit board.

  1. Use a Torx driver to unscrew the circuit board using the four Torx screws.
  2. Remove the board, break it in half, and discard it.

Unscrew and remove the board.

  1. Now you can recycle the hard drive knowing that someone can’t simply connect the drive to another PC to read its data, so it’s safe from casual users.

How to destroy a hard drive the thorough way

If you are going to take the time to get your Torx driver and remove the circuit board, you might as well be thorough, since it only takes another five minutes to completely destroy the drive.

  1. Remove the Torx screws around the outside edge of the top plate on the hard drive case.
  2. There will usually be one additional “hidden” Torx screw under the paper label. Feel around with your finger for a depression and then use a flathead screwdriver to tear the label away. Then use the Torx driver to remove the final screw.

Most hard drives have an additional Torx screw under the paper label.

  1. Pull the top plate off. You’ll probably need to pry it off with the flathead screwdriver. If it’s extremely hard to remove, make sure there isn’t an additional screw holding it together.

Use a flathead screwdriver to pry the top plate off.

  1. Now you can see the hard drive platters – there might be several of them stacked atop one another, each with its own read/write head which looks sort of like a phonograph’s tone arm.

Once you remove the cover, you can see the tone arms and platters, which are also held in place with more Torx screws.

  1. Continue to disassemble the internal components by removing the tone arm and the platters themselves. There will probably be about three Torx screws on the spindle holding the platters in place.
  2. At this point, the very act of exposing the platters to air and handling them with unprotected fingers has almost certainly destroyed the data on the drive. To be thorough, use a flathead screwdriver to scratch the surface of each platter. Now anyone would be hard-pressed to recover anything of value from this drive.

Remove the platters and scratch them to make data recovery impossible.

Additional Steps Just for Good Measure :

Depending on the size of the drives, and their ages, the platters will be different. E.g some 2.5″ hard drives platters are made of glass. For these drives, you can just shatter the platters. Be careful, the glass can be very sharp, wearing appropriate PPE is recommended when doing this task.

3.5″ hard drive platters are made of aluminum, with several coatings of different materials. For these platters, there are a number of ways to ensure that data cannot be recovered. Depending on your tools, you could:

  • Soak them in acid
  • Scratch them all over with a screwdriver
  • Sandblast them
  • Deface them with a multi-tool (a grinding head)
  • Demagnetize them with a very strong magnet