Disks, data and paranoia

I’m currently going through about 15 IDE/ATA  hard disks and wiping them.  I’m using an old machine to do it.  A friend asked if they could have some of them after they’re wiped, for a friend of theirs.  I guess this post is my way of responding and saying no, sorry.

I have no doubt that the data on them is gone.  But, I intend to wipe them, take them outside and hit them a few times with a 4lb lump hammer, and then take them to the local recycling centre.  So the platters will be clean and the devices themselves will be broken.

This isn’t just my data we’re talking about, it’s the personal data of anyone who communicated with me since I started using computers for electronic communications in around 1992.  I don’t think there’s anything, anywhere on any of those disks that could incriminate me or anyone else, or cause any embarrassment, but hell, why take the risk?  When people talked to me on FidoNet, bulletin boards, by e-mail, usenet, IRC, or any other mechanism that may have kept a record on my machine, I bet they weren’t thinking ‘in 17 years, I wonder who’ll be using the disk this is being stored on’.

So anyway, no sorry, you can’t have my old, crusty, IDE disks, I’m destroying them.

The most amusing thing about the process is that the machine I’m using to wipe the disks (with the case off so I can swap drives in and out easily) is clearly dying, sometimes it boots first time (from Darik’s Boot and Nuke media), but most of the time it gives a random combination of beeps and needs another power cycle.  I think it’s the graphic card slowly dying but it’s hard to tell.  So, if the box lives long enough, I’ll finish wiping these disks and then I get to play with my lump hammer.

2 thoughts on “Disks, data and paranoia”

  1. I am similarly paran … erm, careful.

    Besides even if I was to give a 15 year old IDE disk to someone if I was 100% sure it just had binary zeroes all over it, chances are the disk is close to knackered anyway and so could die on them anytime and then they would just resent it / me.

  2. It does sound a bit extreme 😉 but I kind of agree.

    Besides, I took one HD apart earlier this year and broke up the platters. Mainly because I wanted to see all the insides. I also have a HD sat on my desk that died while it was in the server and I really don’t want that to go into the wild without me having trashed it.

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