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.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >




Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?