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View Full Version : Yet another OT- old hard drives



darryl
01-18-2007, 01:17 AM
This came up a few days ago- as I was telling a friend that I wanted to collect some old hard drives for parts, he suggested that they might be hard to come by, specifically because there would be the last owners info on them, which could be retrieved and used by unscroupulous persons. Given the hassle and expense of doing such a thing, I think it's highly doubtful that anyone would do that. Has this ever come up that anyone knows of?

dp
01-18-2007, 01:53 AM
This came up a few days ago- as I was telling a friend that I wanted to collect some old hard drives for parts, he suggested that they might be hard to come by, specifically because there would be the last owners info on them, which could be retrieved and used by unscroupulous persons. Given the hassle and expense of doing such a thing, I think it's highly doubtful that anyone would do that. Has this ever come up that anyone knows of?

We sent $50,000 worth of unwanted disks to the crusher this last quarter. The info on them was worth millions - it would have cost a lot more to purge the data from them. It is difficult to fine a shop that can do a DOD level wipe of fiber channel disks.

TECHSHOP
01-18-2007, 01:53 AM
I think that, the infomation security and a possible hazardous waste disposal aspect has made the "dumpster dive" to find used computers less likely today than a few years ago.

darryl
01-18-2007, 02:03 AM
DOD level wipe of fiber channel disks. What is that?

matador
01-18-2007, 02:05 AM
I don't know that it would be that much of a problem.To my way of thinking,you'd only replace a hard drive if it had died.That would make it very difficult to retrieve any useful information off the drive.
If you replace the hard drive ,say,to get more capacity,simply format the old drive.problem solved?
I pulled an old one apart last week just for the fun of it.
The only thing i couldn't figure out was how to get the motor apart.
Now what could i use that nice shiny disc for?:).

matador
01-18-2007, 02:05 AM
btw.,can anyone tell me what the disc is actually made out of?It seems very hard.

Doc Nickel
01-18-2007, 02:34 AM
If you replace the hard drive ,say,to get more capacity,simply format the old drive.problem solved?

-Nope. All a "format" does is rearrange the file system to tell the PC that certain areas of the disc are open to be written to again.

But if you don't write to that area, the data is still there.

There's software out there- heck, even free copies- that can extract data even after multiple formats. High-end flash memory (large capacity CompactFlash cards and the like) often come with recovery software bundled with them, specifically for memory recovery.

The DOD (Department of Defense- IE, the US Government) or the NSA can probably extract data from multiply-formatted discs, even after the physical disc has been removed from the housing and wiped with a magnet.

Now, that sort of thing costs cubic money- they don't do it on random hard drives bought from garage sales or pawn shops. It's very labor intensive and costly.

But, the lower-level extraction can still be done, and easily, for way cheaper. If you're a company that handles lots of important and sensitive data, then yes, you need to pay attention to where those old drives go after they're removed from a workstation.

And today, hard drives are so cheap and ubiquitous, if there's any concerns, it's better to physically destroy them, rather than going through the trouble of multiple-formats and high-level data wipes, just to you can see the thing as a used part for $10.

Doc.

fixerdave
01-18-2007, 03:05 AM
Old HDs are my main source of aluminium for my foundry. I get them from work, I'm and electronics technologist, and tear them apart. The disks go in one pile, the case (aluminium) in another, and the rare-earth magnets go on a metal cabinet in my shop. Watch them magnets, they bite :eek:

Work likes giving them to me because they know what I'm doing with them - the data is very, very, very destroyed. Sure, maybe the NSA could take the actual platters I have and pull off some info, but it would cost big-time.

They probably make a poor source of aluminium; lots of work for what you get out of them. But, I find is strangely satisfying to watch them melt into the pot. Very cathartic.

You might be able to find a company willing to give them to you but I doubt it, them being liable for the data and all. I suggest asking your friends; you would be amazed at how many people are hanging onto old drives because they're afraid to throw them away. Tell them you're a data destruction service :)

David...

darryl
01-18-2007, 03:46 AM
Hard drive disks- make good wind chimes. They also make good mirrors for vain people. If your nose is too big, you can still see your face, but without your nose. Of course, you have to close one eye, but then everytime you see your reflection in the disc, one eye will be closed. Very disturbing. hmm.

They might make good discs for tesla turbines. I wonder how fast you could spin one before it became dangerous-

Large companies with sensitive information- I can see where they'd have little option except to physically destroy old drives. As far as wiping the info off permanently, I'd be surprised if it couldn't be done with a magnet, particularly a nib magnet.

PTSideshow
01-18-2007, 05:54 AM
When I was junking the drives for the school system at the my building. I bent the disks at an angle and gave them back to the computer teacher. she then showed them to the concerned teachers. They where happy, a couple picked their disk out and took it with them. (don't ask how they knew which one was theirs or why only one) :confused: when done she gave them back. And I put them in the stuff that went to the scrap yard.

john hobdeclipe
01-18-2007, 08:27 AM
...Tell them you're a data destruction service :)
Microsoft? :D

lbender
01-18-2007, 09:25 AM
darryl,

Getting hard drives for melting stock means getting OLD drives -- 5, 10 or 20 megabytes. These have enough aluminum to be worth melting, the newer drives don't. The frames are A380 or A383 alloy while the discs are 5083. When you figure out what to do with all the little stepper motors, let me know.

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 09:31 AM
Spark the drive case with a cheap AC welder.
Nobody is gonna recover data when the case and platters are distorted and the the AC field has played havoc with the magnetic surface.

hitnmiss
01-18-2007, 09:38 AM
The discs are either glass or aluminum. Glass being more expensive and rare.

The flatness of these discs is impressive. Touch them together and they likely won't come apart again.

Older drives parked the heads on the disc when powered down. Then the discs became so smooth they had to laser texture the landing zone so the heads wouldn't stick. Now drives park the heads off the media on a ramp, partly for stiction and partly because the landing zone is valuable data area.

The spacers for the disc pack have some impressive flatness and parallel callouts. Something like 10 millonths IIRC.

Evan
01-18-2007, 09:51 AM
A number of ways exist to ensure that data won't be recovered from a hard drive. The military worries about this a lot. The plane that China captured in 2001 was equipped with the mobile version of the ECHELON monitoring system and stores large quantities of very sensitive data that if analyzed would reveal the capabilities of the system.

In an emergency if compromise appears imminent a destruct feature is activated. It floods the inside of the drive with an acid mixture that destroys the magnetic layer on the disk while the electronics are destroyed by a large overvoltage pulse.

Another very effective option is to shoot a hole through the platters. This will make it virtually impossible to recover data except by the most expensive and labour intensive techniques which involve examining the relatively intact areas with a magnetic force microscope.

Since the 2001 incident new techniques have been developed that use super magnets that are "switched on" similar to a magnetic indicator base to completely scramble the data.

Of course melting the platters totally destroys the data but it isn't necessary to heat that much. Raising the temperature above the curie point of the media will accomplish the same thing. That is the temperature where the magnetic domains lose orientation and that can be as low as a few hundred degrees depending on the media.

Wiping the entire platter surface with a super magnet will make recovery impossible as well. Also, any technique that physically disrupts the platter shape and makes it impossible to spin it will put data recovery into the realm of governments only.

rgbai
01-18-2007, 10:51 AM
i just bought one of these from this guy so i can reuse old hard drives
for cheap unlimited storage.

http://cgi.ebay.ca/NEW-USB-to-IDE-Hard-Disk-Drive-Cable-Converter-w-Power_W0QQitemZ300071521234QQihZ020QQcategoryZ4199 3QQcmdZViewItem

dp
01-18-2007, 10:54 AM
DOD level wipe of fiber channel disks. What is that?

Disks in PC's are typically EIDE architecture. That has to do with the controller card type. Server systems more frequently use SCSI and fiber channel technology which is faster, and allows writing to multiple disks concurrently on the same controller. Most disk wiping (scrubbing data from the disks) services can handle EIDE and some SCSI, but not newer SCSI or fiber channel disks. They don't have the necessary controllers. We found that the salvage value of the disks did not warrant the expense of wiping them, so they are crushed by certified disposal companies and the metal is probably sent to China.

Some of our arrays have hundreds of disks in them, and when we retire them we salvage the chassis but destroy the disks. We're closing in on a petabyte of data - probably hit it next year. That's a thousand terabytes.

A DOD wipe is a methodology used by the DOD to secure disks. Not even the NSA can recover the data and the disks are not harmed. It takes a long time to do it.

Someone is going to associate all the spinning hard disks and their gyroscopic forces with global warming and slowing the earth's rotation. They'll probably get millions of research dollars for it. It will be the same group that got a lot of money to determine how out of balance the Three Rivers Dam in China was going to throw the planet when the gorges filled up. And just when you thought it was safe, all those airplanes in the sky are thought to impact the earth's rotation too - like an ice skater's spin quickening when their arms are tucked in. (I'm kidding!)

JPR
01-18-2007, 11:04 AM
Every so often one of the local tv stations does story where they go to the local thrift shop and buy a few computers and then see what they can find on them. Old tax programs are great since they contain everything someone needs.

Here is a free program for cleaning disks http://www.killdisk.com/ also the PGP software has a wipe function. Personally, I put any old disks in the hydraulic press.

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 11:10 AM
Don't panic DP, we run our drives the other way in the southern hemisphere.
(Coriolis who?)

JPR
01-18-2007, 11:28 AM
here is a link on recovering hard drives.
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/shopper/features/85694/recovery-position/page6.html

Evan
01-18-2007, 12:38 PM
Someone is going to associate all the spinning hard disks and their gyroscopic forces with global warming and slowing the earth's rotation.

First they will need to do an extensive and expensive study to determine if users have a preferred orientation for their hard drives, north/south, southeast by northwest, east/west and so on quantified by mean and standard deviation, accurate 19 times out of 20, plus or minus six degrees. The actions of janitors and repair techs will have to be studied and appropriate multipliers for raid arrays will need to be developed. The average setting for disk power down must be determined and a study done to see how often users change the default setting and to what values.

A plan to mitigate any discovered effects will have to be developed and debated at the UN and Microsoft may insist on veto power. A debate will then ensue as to whether Microsoft should be granted a seat in the security council and whether it should be permanent or temporary.

The final decision will likely go in favor of whatever Microsoft recommends when Bill reveals the existence and the size of his "security" force...

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/gates.jpg

J Tiers
01-18-2007, 01:37 PM
Recovery methods have a few different approaches.

One goodie is "edge information". The head rarely returns to exactly the same place..... so if it is just a hair to the left, a strip along the right won't be touched by a re-write. If you want to badly enough, you can recover that.

With enough re-writes to each place on the disk, the probability is that most of the edge data from a while back has been scrambled.

Now for a good one...... new computers and new hard disks........... and Homeland security (unser Geheim Sicherheits Dienst)

If I were interested in security, from the standpoint of being able to catch you doing thigs you should not, I would do one thing.....

I would require all hard disks and controllers to add some area on the disk, just for me.

That area would NOT be accessible to the users, it would be locked out. What I would do with that is to store on it, compressed data corresponding to the last "X" amount of information stored on the machine. For grins, I might well make it random-selected, time dependent, or only sieze data of certain types, or even certain characteristics.

That data area would gradually fill up, and then begin to age out old files. But if I wanted to sieze your computer and look at it, I could get a pretty fair idea of what had been going on for quite some time, and probably get some good data off it for evidence.

Without knowing what the data aquisition algorithm is, it could be pretty difficult for a potential evil doer (or ordinary Joe) to be sure the data in the "perpetrator cache" was cleared out.

I think I have entirely the wrong sort of mind........

Evan
01-18-2007, 01:51 PM
This concern is going to change form shortly. The days of rotating component storage media are numbered and the numbers are small. Laptops with all solid state drives (SSD) are now available and the price premium is dropping fast. It is trivial to erase the data on a solid state drive, quickly and completely in just a few seconds and the military has been using them for a few years now.



“Based on flash-memory technology, our new RIDATA Flash SSD offers highly reliable data storage and rugged, high-performance,” remarked Harvey Liu, Advanced Media president. “When compared to a traditional HDD, the RIDATA SSD requires less power, weighs less than half as much, offers faster boot and access times, and operates at a lower temperature and no mechanical movement part. It is the perfect HDD replacement for any notebook, sub-notebook, or tablet PC.”
Since it has no moving parts, the RIDATA Flash SSD produces virtually no noise, no heat generation, and no vibration, while offering more reliable temperature and humidity that assures long-lasting storage. It is engineered with semiconductor components and uses NAND flash memory. Importantly, it also has the same host interface as a hard disk drive, so there is no issues with compatibility or upgrading. It simply plugs into a device’s IDE slot.
It meets bus interface industry standard ATA/IDE and SATA, also supports up to PIO Mode-4 and up to Multiword DMA Mode-2. It has a flash media interface of 8- or 16-bit access and can support up to eight flash-media devices directly and 32 such devices through external decoding logic. A built-in ECC corrects up to three-random 12-bit symbols per 512-byte sector. RIDATA offers 1.8” and 2.5” module-type Flash SSD for an ATA/IDE interface and 2.5” for a SATA interface.
The RIDATA Flash Solid State Disk (SSD) has an MSRP of $169.00/pc and will be available around middle of Dec., 2006. As with most other RIDATA products, it will be available through selected retailers, RIDATA distributors, and at various online outlets. A complete listing of locations may be found on the Advanced Media website, www.ritekusa.com (http://www.ritekusa.com/).




http://www.engadget.com/2006/03/10/samsung-shows-off-flash-laptop-drive-at-cebit/

http://www.physorg.com/news87143689.html

J Tiers
01-18-2007, 02:02 PM
Same concerns apply..... hidden cache areas, even easier to make, much harder to access without destroying the "drive".


However, a nice torch will finish off the memory if that is an issue.

Evan
01-18-2007, 02:21 PM
Take the cover off and put it in the microwave. It will fry the interconnects on the chips.

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 02:28 PM
hehhehehe :D
what a "naked" magnetron can do to $$$$ worth of chips, must be seen to be believed!
(don't try this at home)

Evan
01-18-2007, 02:52 PM
This is what it does to a CD in three seconds. Guaranteed nobody is going to recover information off of this. It's even DOD approved.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/cd1.jpg

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 03:02 PM
Yeah Evan, but that's just on top of your morning coffee. I'm talking about pointing the feed of a 750W magnetron at the target :D

Evan
01-18-2007, 04:14 PM
Oven works pretty good. I just took an old eprom and nuked it, 2 seconds at 1000 watts.



BEFORE
http://vts.bc.ca/pics/eprom1.jpg

AFTER
http://vts.bc.ca/pics/eprom2.jpg

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 04:21 PM
Didja get much magic smoke through that lil quartz window? :D

Evan
01-18-2007, 05:17 PM
Nah, it's still trapped inside. It was however a valiant escape attempt. The arcs crawling around the pins and the flashes through the window were pretty...

CCWKen
01-18-2007, 06:08 PM
... and the rare-earth magnets go on a metal cabinet in my shop. Watch them magnets, they bite :eek: ...

That's definitely been my experience. :D After a couple of blood blisters, I'm very careful with them. I have a couple screwed down to a bench for holding various items while working on them. In many cases, they're better than a vise.

hitnmiss
01-18-2007, 06:58 PM
LOL, my friend at work collects VCM magnets. Wound up with a stack of them 7 feet tall! Called it his tower of power.

I joked that someday a 747 was going to crash into his house.

They come in real handy holding the drill press chuck key.

zopi
01-18-2007, 07:16 PM
Bah...DOD approved...whatta joke.

there is a site somewheres...guy is making tesla turbines out of disks...

fixerdave
01-18-2007, 09:02 PM
darryl,

Getting hard drives for melting stock means getting OLD drives -- 5, 10 or 20 megabytes. These have enough aluminum to be worth melting, the newer drives don't. The frames are A380 or A383 alloy while the discs are 5083. When you figure out what to do with all the little stepper motors, let me know.


Yup, the older the better. Another really good source is 5.25" floppy drives - lots of aluminium in them. Newer stuff is hardly worth taking apart. I disassembled, with extreme prejudice, a DVD drive the other day. The only thing remotely useful was a tiny steel rod the head slid back and forth on. Everything else was plastic; even the motors were soldered directly to the PCB, useless. Then again, what do you expect when you can buy them new for almost nothing.

As for motors, I don't bother with them if they have more than 2 wires. Steppers are pretty useless without the specs. Unless they're big enough to bother doing some research, I just toss them. And yes, I have a bin full of various sized motors; no, I have no idea what to do with them. Well, lots of ideas that, realistically, will never happen. I'll probably wind up using the stupid little steel bar from the DVD drive before I use one of the motors.

Still, I enjoy ripping stuff apart - don't know why, but I do.

David...

fixerdave
01-18-2007, 09:28 PM
The final decision will likely go in favor of whatever Microsoft recommends when Bill reveals the existence and the size of his "security" force...

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/gates.jpg

Reminds me of a bit I wrote way back... It's too long, and way too off topic, to post here so I just threw it up on a blog: MS-Earth (http://datadave.blogspot.com/2007/01/ms-earth.html)

Enjoy,

David...

dp
01-18-2007, 09:59 PM
Reminds me of a bit I wrote way back... It's too long, and way too off topic, to post here so I just threw it up on a blog: MS-Earth (http://datadave.blogspot.com/2007/01/ms-earth.html)

Enjoy,

David...

Watch the skies, men of earth - the day of the engineers is coming!