Hacked Gadgets Forum

August 22, 2006

Taking a Blowtorch to a Hard Drive

at 5:11 am. Filed under Computer Hacks


Concerned about data on your old hard drives? Matt Fleming has an interesting solution. 🙂

“In the wake of all of the identity theft going on around the world, Matt Fleming, founder of Alicent Small Business Solutions in Las Vegas, NV demonstrates the proper way to destroy a used PC hard drive to prevent banks statements, SS# and other personal information from being extracted from the disposed of unit. The only way to guarantee the destruction of data is through a chemical reaction. In this case, a Mapp Gas blow torch liquifies and burns the metal disk inside of the hard drive completely obliterating the data contained on the disk. Matt can be reached at 702-804-9289”


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19 Responses to “Taking a Blowtorch to a Hard Drive”

  1. sqorpo Says:

    Pretty cool, but not exactly safe… Make sure you have proper ventilation as aluminium releases poisonous gasses when heated that hot..

  2. Robbo Says:

    There are a lot easier ways to do this. a Big honking magnet does the job.
    Also Matt only had to deal with one platter, what if there are multiple?
    It’ll take a long time. How about a acid bath, steel wool, crazy glue, or best yet,
    dumping your openned old drive at the cottage lake. It should take about week for
    it to be completely unsalvagable, and costs nothing.

  3. alexander Says:

    Also, if you have a forge or other means to smelt a lot of metal, you can save the aluminum from the innner core (the actual stuff that melts in the video) and send it to your local recycling place.


    I do this all the time. I have a bag of ‘aluminum’ from all my various projects, and whenever it gets full I just fire up my forge/smelter and smelt it down. Then I let it cool, and toss it onto a shelf where I have about 10-15 of them sitting.

    You’d be suprised how cool it is throwing can after can from a party into a smelter and then at the end of the party, pouring everybody’s ’empties’ into a ingot. Not only do people want to throw away their cans saving you tons of cleanup, but you get a nice little disc of Aluminum to fashion into other projects.

    Oh, and the ‘lost foam’ technique that is discribed on that site I linked to earler is WAY easier than it sounds. It does take a bit of skill to get perfect results the first try, but once you have it you’ll be able to make parts from scrap.

  4. MadScott Says:

    Lots of fun, but very inefficient. A few seconds in a microwave creates enough enough EMF (and associated induction currents) to thrash the data into Seagate Purgatory. And, no, metal in a microwave won’t ruin it (though you may get some cool arcing that can cause some problems). Really.

  5. Smarter than you Says:

    what is this crap? make him buy an advert like everyone else. this whole thing is just a big ad for his remote support shite.

  6. Daedalus Says:

    what hapen if you fill with zeros every byte in the disc, data will be lost no?, it takes a wile but a comupter can do it for you and you can save a disk smartly!

  7. Elbarfo Says:

    The simple act of removing the platter does the job just fine.

    Seriously, who the hells gonna try to recover a platter? (Yes, I know it has been done

    Besides, I’ve found that platters make decent laser mirrors. 😀

  8. Chris Says:

    melting your harddisk is very exorbitant! it is enough to heat it up to ~700 deg Celcius, so all the magnetic information is lost. (physics -> ‘curie temperature’).

  9. rugelindinda Says:


  10. Karl Says:

    You all not really gettin this are you…
    First of all Robbo…hard drives have some of the most powerufull magnets your ever gonna come accross in your household…they are what keeps your r/w head floating above the platter until the electromagnet decides to pull it down on a specific point…also the guy that made the vid (Matt) was a bit stupid touching the platters as they are coated in a poisonous chemical that stops scratching from the r/w head, should rough contact occur…also another thing robbo said about chuckin the drive into a lake…as if thats going to make a difference…the thing is air tight to stop shite gettin onto the platters and clogging the r/w head and Daedalus is partly correct, yes you can destroy the data if you overwrite the lot with other stuff, however, to properly get rid of it all so it would be unreadable by even computer forensics standards, you would need to keep writing over it for approx 3 months or so. I had a dabble in data recovery once, thats how i know…Matt has got the right idea, and this is the most effective way of destroying the data on the platter, though be sure to destroy the control board on the bottom of the hard disk too, as some of these store the file allocation table for quick access, therefore directory structures and other evidence can be found…hope you washed your hands after that Matt.

    PS: you all got owned by a 14 year old boy 🙂

  11. sqorpo Says:

    Karl.. Dude.. I hate to burst your bubble, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.. No poison on the platters, not airtight, and you’re not going to get anything very valuable on even a 16 megabit cache without any power..

  12. Tim Says:

    And Karl, hard drives are not airtight. They have miniature air filters inside them to prevent dust getting in. Otherwise, what do you think would happen when the air inside heats up and expands? Or cools down and contracts?

    Also, the magnets are used to move the head with the voice coil acting against it. The head doesn’t get “pulled down” onto the platters or anything. The magnets don’t maintain the gap between the heads and platters, the air bearing between the platters and head does that.

    Have you ever taken apart a hard drive? Please don’t try to put other people down when you don’t know. By any chance, were you trying data recovery from a piece of paper and not a hard drive?

    Anyway, rant over. Would simply smashing the platters to thousands of pieces work? Either way, both methods sound like fun…

  13. kevin Says:

    use a hammer

  14. Phil Says:

    I have a degree in forensic science, and I can tell you now everything that has been mentioned here is overkill. A 3 pass write, 1, 0 then random – a DoD overwrite or anything similar will completely nuke the data.
    Even just writing the drive all to zero’s will necessitate the use of a multimillion dollar scanning electron microscope to even begin to guess at the contents, along with trained professionals and hundreds of man hours. 2 or 3 passes makes any trace completely unfindable. Unless you are hiding child pornography from government officials hell bent on catching you then all you need to do is a FULL format vs a quick format. Maybe get a freeware over-writer to be 100% safe if you actually intend to sell the HDD – rather than just throw it away.
    Really people, look up paranoid in a dictionary.

  15. Gprime Says:

    While you are right Phil, I do fancy knowing that the data I’m trying to destroy be overwritten many amny times. True 3 passes may be all that you need but what harm comes for 7.
    Here is my guide for destroying HDD.
    Full Format, Random Data pass 10 times, Take the platter, move it near a nyodimane super magnet, throw in smelter, take small cube of alluminum and rub over magnet again, hamer into quarter sized coin, recycle.

  16. Phil Says:

    Well, what can I say?
    I think you concede that 3 passes is all that you need, and then you proceed to more than double that, then smelt the drive!?

    Do you even know what is involved in data retrieval for even just one overwrite? An electron scanning microscope, hundreds of hours, tens of thousands of dollars, and a tiny, TINY percentage of retrieving anything useful. It’s only been attempted a couple of times in criminal history, when it was absolutely necessary, and the last resort. It’s only even possible *in theory* and on certain surfaces of platters. Did you know that the DoD standard is what is used on machines carrying the MOST highly sensitive military secrets? Why are they not concerned, and you’re running around smelting drives and then attacking the remains with super magnets?

    I can only assume you are trying to:
    a) Hide child pornography AND are extra paranoid.
    b) Just really bored and want something to do.

    If someone wanted your ex-data that badly there are countless useable ways of getting data from you. These, as well as a surface scan on an electon microscope, are ONLY avaliable to law enforcement agencies. So you tell me, is it actually worth it at all?

    This kind of thing REALLY annoys me because it makes people who aren’t necessarily computer literate too paranoid to even use their machines, because Uber geeks like you seem to think this level of paranoia is a worthwhile precaution. Seriously, get out more!

  17. sqorpo Says:

    I agree 100% with Phil…. I am so sick of having to calm down people about all this security stuff scaring the hell out of them… Basically it’s “fear mongering” for a buck.. Reminds me of those pop-up ads saying “your computer is infected”, “click here to disinfect it now”… You wouldn’t believe how many people buy that crap.. Just as many that buy this…

  18. The one Says:

    This guy is a dumbass, I have destroyed hard drives using an old ax, and a little bit of home made napalm. Using the ax, make a hole in the cover, then insert napalm, it burns hot enough to liquefy the hard drive disc, and the casing on the hard drive. Much faster than disassembling the hard drive first, if you’re gonna destroy it, don’t take all day on something so smal.

  19. o Says:

    throw it in alchol,salt,bleach and amonia mix never useable again

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