How to Destroy a Hard Drive in a Computer

By Gregory Hamel

A computer hard drive is a physical hard disc that contains metallic disc platters used to store data. Hard drives often contain important personal or financial information; completely destroying the information on old hard drives will ensure that this information does not fall into the wrong hands. There are ways to wipe out data using software programs, but physically destroying the disc platters of a hard drive in a computer will also ensure that data is not recoverable.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips head screwdrivers
  • TORX screwdrivers
  • Power drill
  • Sandpaper or power sander
  • Hammer

Step 1

Shut off your computer and unplug all the cables. Open the computer's case with a screwdriver. Most cases can be opened by removing a few screws along the right side of the back of the case.

Step 2

Unplug the power cable and motherboard interface cable from the back of the hard drive, unscrew any mounting screws holding it in place and then slide it out of the hard drive bay. If the drive is mounted with screws on both sides, you may have to remove the case panel on the other side of the computer and unscrew the other mounting screws to get the drive to come free.

Step 3

Use TORX screwdrivers (star shaped screwdrivers) to open the hard drive. Remove all the screws on the top and bottom of the drive (there may be screws located underneath a circular sticker on the top of the drive, and under the circuit board on the bottom of the drive), remove any tape or labels holding the drive together and remove the outer casing.

Step 4

Use a TORX screwdriver to unscrew the screws in the middle of the circular platters, and slide the platters out of the hard drive.

Step 5

Destroy the hard drive platters. You can sand them with rough sandpaper or use a power sander to rough up the surface and make them unreadable. Drilling holes through the platters or smashing them with a hammer so that the surface bends can also destroy them.

Tips & Warnings

  • The hard disk platters are the part of the drive that contain data. Damaging the physical casing of the drive will not render the data unrecoverable if the platters are intact.
  • Applying heat or water to the disk platters may not render them unreadable.