Removing hard drive data -- the YouTube way

Forget "Format c:" or that silly disk erasing software; get physical

With stories surfacing on news channels regularly about lost or stolen data or the ability to recover data from discarded or resold computers and their hard drives, we decided to look at some cheap methods of removing that sensitive data from your hard drive permanently. And, what better place to look than YouTube?

While some of the behavior in these videos clearly displays a somewhat alarming level of violence and pent-up rage (and are probably illegal), we nevertheless were fascinated with the myriad ways to destroy a hard drive -- from a plasma cutter to a train to machines we don't even know the name of -- not to mention aluminothermic reactions.

Who knew there was such a subculture devoted to abusing hard drives? We even tried it ourselves, and you know, it is kind of fun.

Please remember to wear safety goggles if you attempt any of these at home. Which you probably shouldn't do. Seriously.


First, we'll start out with a little thermite. What's thermite, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it's "a pyrotechnic composition of aluminium powder and a metal oxide which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction."

As you can see in this video, it's stuff that gets really hot and burns through almost anything, including a metal hard drive.


Next up is a "pirate bomb," whatever that is. Looks like some sort of firecracker.

YouTube abounds with hard-drive explosion videos, but we liked this one because it's close-up, it's short and to the point, it shows the aftermath, and it repeats the explosion in slow motion with well-choreographed music, which is cool.

Smash, smash, smash ...

OK, a simple hammer job. It's not that creative or unusual, but we had to include it because of the sheer, dogged determination of this guy. I mean, he makes the Energizer Bunny look lethargic. He just won't quit. He must have arms like Popeye. Rarely have we witnessed such maniacal persistence. It also has an almost Bergmanesque quality with its simplicity and stark cinematography -- just a hard drive, a wall, a hammer and an arm.

The Crusher

We didn't even know what this was at first -- some kind of enclosed industrial-strength drill press or something with a cone-shaped drill bit. But by following a link, we learned it's apparently a machine built just for this purpose. But brevity counts, and it's different and certainly gets the job done.

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