Hard Drive Torture 2
~Sand Blasting~

In today's lesson, we will learn how to erase a HDD through fine grain silicon dispersion...

At the suggestion of my boss, I decided to destroy my next HDD with sand. Since he provided the drive, who was I to argue? It just so happens that we have a pet lizard here and a supply of sand here. I decided to cannibalize a thick, but clear, plastic bag to use as a window. For once, I didn't have to go out and buy anything. That causes no end of satisfaction.

I decided to use and old AT power supply, since they had mechanical power switches. That way, I wouldn't need to get a motherboard involved and potentially covered with sand. After a quick test, I was assured that the motor would spin up and stay up.

I cut a rectangle out of the plastic bag and used duct tape to secure half of it to the hard drive case. I then added a little sand into a corner of the case that used to contain a packet of desiccant. I then sealed up the rest of it and set up my camera to film a short clip of the action.

As soon as the drive spun up the sand was sucked out of the corner by the spinning platters. Most of it was deposited on the opposite side, but some kept airborne.

After I shut down the motor, I moved the sand back to a corner and turned the power back on. This time, nothing happened. The sand had gotten down into the motor and seized it. I had to pull off the platter, and disconnect the motor. I was then able to use pliers to work the motor free. After I reassembled the drive, the motor spun up freely. I then moved the sand all to one corner again and hit the power. Yet again, the motor seized.

Five minutes later, I decided to move the sand, then put the motor back. Once that motor started, I wasn't going to kill the power this time. I even added more sand to tempt fate. This created a real sand storm inside. Significant scratches were formed around the outer edge of the platter. You can download the video here (4.43MB, please do not stream it).

The motor again seized immediately after shutdown, but this time I had a good video of it. So, yet another hard drive destroyed, yet another day.

Next time, same place, HDD art!

In case anyone is interested, I have created a theme for PocketPC 2002 using the bottom picture. You can download it here.

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