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Hard Drive Data Security

#1 User is offline   dwma 

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:40 AM

A computer manufacturer replaced my hard drive as part of their warranty program. They are requiring that I return the old hard drive. The old hard drive is damaged not usable. The manufacturer will not allow me to destroy it prior to returning it. Is there a way to remove data on the drive prior to returning it?
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#2 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:44 AM

View Postdwma, on 19 October 2009 - 07:40 AM, said:

A computer manufacturer replaced my hard drive as part of their warranty program. They are requiring that I return the old hard drive. The old hard drive is damaged not usable. The manufacturer will not allow me to destroy it prior to returning it. Is there a way to remove data on the drive prior to returning it?


Is the drive completely non-functional?
Good riddance PCWorld.
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#3 User is offline   techie4fun 

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 08:59 AM

View Postdwma, on 19 October 2009 - 07:40 AM, said:

A computer manufacturer replaced my hard drive as part of their warranty program. They are requiring that I return the old hard drive. The old hard drive is damaged not usable. The manufacturer will not allow me to destroy it prior to returning it. Is there a way to remove data on the drive prior to returning it?


Have you explained to them that there is physical data on the hard drive??
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#4 User is offline   Slik 

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 10:58 AM

Suggestion: Find someone who has an old TV set CRT (cathode ray tube) de-gaussing coil. Give your defunct HDD 10 to 15 passes closely around/along the circumference of the coil, using multiple HDD orientations. This should re-orient the magnetic domains on the HDD disk surfaces so that only an MIT computer science major would try to recover any remaining data, if any. Or you could e-mail one of the many failed-HDD data recovery services and ask their (free) advice on how to destroy the functionality of the old HDD. If you can open the HDD's case without upsetting the HDD supplier, a few straight-pin or paper clip scratches across the HDD's magnetic surfaces should also do the trick. It is likely that all the supplier wants is to salvage the old HDD for parts to use in building refurbished drives for resale, or to determine why the HDD failed for quality control purposes.
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#5 User is offline   rgreen4 

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 06:46 PM

View PostSlik, on 19 October 2009 - 10:58 AM, said:

Suggestion: Find someone who has an old TV set CRT (cathode ray tube) de-gaussing coil. Give your defunct HDD 10 to 15 passes closely around/along the circumference of the coil, using multiple HDD orientations. This should re-orient the magnetic domains on the HDD disk surfaces so that only an MIT computer science major would try to recover any remaining data, if any. Or you could e-mail one of the many failed-HDD data recovery services and ask their (free) advice on how to destroy the functionality of the old HDD. If you can open the HDD's case without upsetting the HDD supplier, a few straight-pin or paper clip scratches across the HDD's magnetic surfaces should also do the trick. It is likely that all the supplier wants is to salvage the old HDD for parts to use in building refurbished drives for resale, or to determine why the HDD failed for quality control purposes.


That is not correct Slik. Many times they refurbish the drive by replacing the electronics of the drive if the mechanical components are still functional (which they are the majority of the time). I had to send one back in an instance like that. If the member opens the drive or scratches the drive, the member has voided the warranty and will be charged for the replacement drive. The degaussing coil was the best idea, but even that may leave traces.

The best idea is to discuss this with the manufacturer and find out if when the drive is refurbished the drive is securely wiped.
Siggy Courtesy of Solar Wings
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#6 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 10:24 AM

I would NOT open up the drive at all to scratch the platters or any such thing. That is a recipe to have the warranty voided.

In general, this is a tough issue. One would hope that a manufacturer would respect your privacy and wipe the data securely or destroy the drive when they got it, but seeing as I am extremely cynical, I personally do not trust them. As such, if I have no good way to wipe a drive myself, then I might likely be inclined to just purchase a new drive myself so that I can destroy the old drive myself...unless I feel there is nothing "critical" on the drive.

At a minimum, I would ask the manufacturer what their policy is regarding people's data and how they handle data on drives that are returned for warranty. Once you get that information from them, then you can decide if it is acceptable to you or not.
Good riddance PCWorld.
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