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Posted: 3/17/2006 10:00:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/17/2006 11:24:59 AM EDT by scrum]
I have a laptop 3.5" hard drive that has stopped working. It is full of confidential (contracts and confidential business documents, intellectual property issues - so this is stuff that cannot be disclosed and needs to be wiped) information. I need to clean it before it can be sent in for warranty support. I do not need to recover the info.

(1) It does not respond/boot, so I cannot format or do any standard soft data wipe.
(2) I don't have a big magnet around.
(3) I cannot destroy it (has to be intact for my company to get the warranty service).

Any ideas? Anyone know how to safely build a magnet big enough to do the job from stuff around the house?

Thanks,

Scrum

ETA: It does not boot at all. BIOS does not recognize the drive. The drive light flashes for about a second (meaning it tries to power it up) and then goes off. I and tech support tried recovering the drive using a cascade of tools, but no luck. It's just dead.
Link Posted: 3/17/2006 10:53:34 AM EDT
Now when you say it doesn't respond/boot, can you see it when you go into the BIOS?
Link Posted: 3/17/2006 11:12:08 AM EDT
Does the system boot at all? Into the bios load screen even? I'm asking because it's hard to make out from your post if it's a fried drive or fried cpu/etc. If it's a fried comp, you could swap the drive into another company/friends/obtained laptop and do a swipe with a plethora of free NSA level disk swiping apps available around the web, then just put it back into the fried laptop and send away.

If it boots past the BIOS then it probably is the drive(or OS failure even?). If I knew for sure the disk was damaged, i'd just send it in. They aren't likely to spend the money fixing it let alone spend the money attempting to see what you had on it.
Link Posted: 3/17/2006 11:13:51 AM EDT
honestly, I can not think of a method other than a degaussing magnet.

I would forget about the drive warranty and buy an aftermarket drive to place in the system, then destroy the bad one.

It all depends on just how confidential the data really is, I have had clients decide it wasn't so secret when they saw the price tag, and have had others that didn't care how much the cost was.

If it is truly that confidential, I would never let the intact hard drive out of my possession.

YMMV

BTW I deal with corporate secrets all day long, and am responsible for safe guarding their data on various data systems.
Link Posted: 3/17/2006 11:41:11 AM EDT
You can also try talking with the vendor that you need to send the drive back to. As they are most likely going to toss the drive you can talk to them about sending the drive back with the platters removed.
Link Posted: 3/17/2006 11:42:52 AM EDT
if its under warranty their is nothing you can do.
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 3:02:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/18/2006 3:19:32 AM EDT by Helldog40]
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 3:06:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Helldog40:
First off, I think it's a 2.5" hdd if it's new enough to be under warranty. If it's in the 60 -100 Gb range we're talking about what, $200?

Is your data security worth that? To hell with the warranty issues, take it apart and run the platters through your shredder.

Dam Right ! now theres a paraniod guy i like the way he thinks
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 3:20:06 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 3:23:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/18/2006 3:24:11 AM EDT by wyv3rn]
.
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 2:27:50 PM EDT
I would just send it in and not say a single word about having confidential stuff on the drive. I doubt they even look at the data on there.

Any drive that I throw out, it is either shot in the desert or I drill a few 1/4 " holes through the whole drive on my drill press :)

-d
Link Posted: 3/18/2006 6:18:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/18/2006 6:19:35 PM EDT by PeteCO]

Originally Posted By Helldog40:
First off, I think it's a 2.5" hdd if it's new enough to be under warranty. If it's in the 60 -100 Gb range we're talking about what, $200?

Is your data security worth that? To hell with the warranty issues, take it apart and run the platters through your shredder.

ETA: Newegg has both Hitachi and Seagate 100Gb, 2.5", 7200 rpm, ata-6 Hdds for $180 this weekend.



And buy a new shredder too. The platters are usually thin-film coated metal disks about 1mm-2mm thick. Not shredder material.

I always pull the platters out, and either hit them with a cutting torch or abrade the thin-film off of them. Then I smash them with a hammer.

I like the drill press idea too.

In any case, it is unlikely someone is going to drop the thousand bucks to send the drive to Ontrack for data recovery.
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 1:51:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 1:10:44 AM EDT by Helldog40]
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 3:40:01 PM EDT
Tannerite it!

-d
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 3:23:29 AM EDT
Ultimately it comes down to what's more valuable, eating the cost of the hard drive, or risking having the data disclosed...

But you could try a couple things:
1. Put the hard drive in a ziplock bag and put it in a freezer for about 30-60 minutes. Take it out and then hook it up to see if the BIOS can see it.
2. Drop it on to a carpeted floor from a height of about 3 feet.
Try #1 first, it's not very reliable (I've had maybe a 30% success rate with these steps) but it might get the drive to respond long enough for you to wipe it.

Otherwise if the drive is still not responding eat the cost of the drive and destroy it. Your confidential business property is likely worth much more than a single laptop drive.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:50:13 AM EDT
Thanks everybody. I appreciate everybody's advice and opinions.

For posterity, I agreed with most of you that the drive should just go through the shredder, but the company is cheap and bureaucratic, meaning we have to use encryption, shredders, etc for all data, but when it means throwing something that in 1990 might have been worth something, 40 forms have to be filled out and it needs the Pope to sign it's death warrant.

They said if I want to destroy it, I have to pay for it. Not bloody likely. I work for pay. I don't pay to work. It's their company, their data, their risk. All for a 4200 RPM 40GB drive. Ridiculous, but they believe the hard drive is a company asset just because it is technology.

I am sending the hard drive in as ordered. It's their data, and their risk. I have covered my butt thoroughly on this one and wash my hands of the mess.

Thanks.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:03:37 AM EDT
Drill it.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:46:59 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 4:31:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By scrum:
Thanks everybody. I appreciate everybody's advice and opinions.

For posterity, I agreed with most of you that the drive should just go through the shredder, but the company is cheap and bureaucratic, meaning we have to use encryption, shredders, etc for all data, but when it means throwing something that in 1990 might have been worth something, 40 forms have to be filled out and it needs the Pope to sign it's death warrant.

They said if I want to destroy it, I have to pay for it. Not bloody likely. I work for pay. I don't pay to work. It's their company, their data, their risk. All for a 4200 RPM 40GB drive. Ridiculous, but they believe the hard drive is a company asset just because it is technology.

I am sending the hard drive in as ordered. It's their data, and their risk. I have covered my butt thoroughly on this one and wash my hands of the mess.

Thanks.



Make sure you have a backup plan for another job. Jobs where they were that anal didn't last long for me....
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