How to remove and destroy a hard drive

Hard drives (HDDs) are an important component inside every computer.

The hard drive is where all of your data is stored (photos, files, documents etc.) therefore if you’re disposing of an old laptop or PC you definitely must remove the hard drive first. This is an essential step to avoid unwanted people from potentially accessing your data! Passwords, credit card details and bank account information can still be accessible even if erased.

Hard drive removal differs from computer to computer. Whether you have a desktop PC, an all-in-one computer, laptop or Apple Mac the hard drive location will be different.

Removing a hard drive can be fairly straightforward if you know what you’re doing, those less experienced may prefer to take it to a computer specialist especially if you’re planning to sell on the old computer and need it functional for the next person after hard drive extraction.

How to remove and destroy a hard drive

How to remove a hard drive from a desktop PC:

1) Ensure the PC is unplugged and disconnected from the mains
2) Remove the side panel
3) Remove the HDD from its location (use a screw driver if needed)
4) Unplug the SATA power and data cables (If using an older HDD do the same step to the IDE cable and the power connector)

How to remove a hard drive from a laptop:

1) Power off the laptop, remove the charger and close the lid
2) Place the laptop face down (reverse side facing upwards)
3) Remove the bottom panel of the laptop
4) Remove the small screws that hold the hard drive in place
5) Take the hard drive out of its location and unplug the SATA data and power cables

How to remove a hard drive from an Apple iMac:

1) Turn off the iMac and unplug it from the power
2) Slowly take out the display and disconnect the cables that connect the display to the logic board (It is done by various methods depending on the model)
3) Locate the hard drive and remove the screws that hold it in place
4) Slowly take the hard drive out and unplug the SATA power and data cables

How to remove a hard drive from a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro:

1) Power off the MacBook and close the lid
2) Remove the bottom panel of the MacBook
3) Locate the hard drive and remove the small screws that hold it in place
4) Slowly take the hard drive out of place and unplug the SATA power and data cables

Once the hard drive has been removed from the computer you have two options: either keep hold of the hard drive and store it away somewhere safe or have the hard drive destroyed.

How to remove and destroy a hard drive

How to destroy a hard drive

How to remove and destroy a hard drive

If you decide to go down the route of destruction you can try destroying the drive with a hammer or by drilling holes right through it. If you decide to do this it’s advised to carry this out somewhere spacious e.g. outside in your garden wearing protective safety goggles! Be extremely careful as parts can go flying even if you’re being gentle.

1) Open up the HD casing by loosening the screws (there may be screws that are not visible and are hidden away under labels).
2) Remote the magnets. This involves removing the arm to then access the plate. When removing the magnets do so with caution as they are extremely strong and you want to avoid injury at all cost.
3) Remove the plate. The plate is where most of the data is stored so this part in particular needs to be destroyed. In some instances there is more than one plate.
4) Hammer time! Smashing the plate with a hammer is the final stage. Ensure you are wearing protective gear – safety goggles and gloves are a must! Particles can fly off so it’s vital that nobody else is around during this process.
5) After destruction bag up the remains and take to a suitable recycling center.

Bear in mind this method of destruction is not 100% guaranteed.

The guaranteed destruction method is to use a specialist piece of machinery, however this type of machinery is very expensive costing around £1000! As this piece of kit is not something an everyday individual would invest in, taking the hard drive to a company who can carry out the destruction for you (for a fraction of the cost) is advised.

Hard drive destruction is a service we offer here at Nexus IT.

Contact us today for a quote. Simply fill out our online form and we’ll come right back to you!

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