HDD Platter Removal

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by bavis, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. bavis

    bavis Guest

    We want to be able to dismantle HDD's and destroy the platters to
    ensure the data is destroyed. This seems to require a special tool to
    remove the platters from the spindle on some of the older drives. The
    spindle appears to be held on with some sort of odd plate type thing
    with 6 slots on the edges. Is there a tool somewhere to remove this?
    Any recommendations on getting them off? Thanks.
    bavis, Dec 22, 2005
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  2. bavis

    bavis Guest

    Okay... I think the spindle attachment I am talking about may just be
    locking rings. Which are much easier to remove than some strange screw
    mechanism. And I have been killing myself trying to unscrew the darn
    thing. :p
    bavis, Dec 22, 2005
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  3. bavis

    Nomen Nescio Guest

    Yes. It's called a spanner wrench.
    If you're destroying the platters anyway, just secure the platter itself
    with a set of vice grips or such (or an extra set of hands), and use a
    hammer and screwdriver or chisel to turn that "plate type thing with the
    slots around the edge". Put the end of the screwdriver in the little slot
    at an angle that allows you to hammer the thing in the direction it needs
    to go. Note that some are left hand and some are probably right hand

    Of course the next logical question is why you're removing the platters.
    It would be just as effective to destroy the entire unit I'd think...???
    Nomen Nescio, Dec 22, 2005
  4. bavis

    Eugene Nine Guest

    There are some manufacturers what will let you return the drive without
    platters while still under warranty if your a large enough customer.
    Eugene Nine, Dec 22, 2005
  5. bavis

    dnss Guest

    What brand and age of hdd?
    I have disassembled hundreds at the platter level - some have been somewhat
    Most only require removing a few screws, turn the hdd over and the platters
    fall out.

    As another post in this thread indicates simply bending or scratching the
    platters would be sufficient for secure destruction.

    There are companies that offer physical shredding of hdd's (personally I
    feel that is a waste of resources when a DoD wipe can be used and then the
    hdd can be reused).
    The hdd's I have ripped apart were beyond use re a variety of failures.
    dnss, Dec 22, 2005
  6. bavis

    icono Guest

    Do you have a fire place?
    icono, Dec 23, 2005
  7. bavis

    Winged Guest

    Part of the issue here is the value of the data. For the average user
    simply making the drive inoperable or DOD wipe is sufficient. A DOD
    wipe is somewhat of a misnomer these days. Our current rules require
    drive destruction, a wipe is not sufficient. This is overkill in most
    cases, but seeing articles on 60 minutes about data retrieved on a DOD
    system usually ends up ruining someones career. Additionally we have a
    number of unsavory players that might like to retrieve drives to extract
    data so it is just common sense and a simple task to destroy a drive
    irretrievably and little cost involved once a system is established.

    If drive data has high value, the drive should be completely destroyed.
    retrieving data from scratched disks is very possible. The disks are
    the important issue here as, if one were removing data, one would
    utilize methods that did not require the drive case or drive mechanism
    or electronics. The professional snoop is not concerned with the
    condition of drive and mechanisms, these will hardly be given a glance.
    But those shiny platters are the target and simply scratching them
    after a DOD wipe is not sufficient for the truly determined and motivated.

    This would not be the local script kiddy, a single credit card number is
    not "high value" but if someone believes the target might have "high
    value", those platters are a target.

    In years past, the equipment to accomplish this data reassembly was very
    expensive and very time consuming however technology has changed and if
    one has the resources to establish a proper lab, the data recovery is
    almost an automated process and computer programs exist to analyze not
    only the platters but also have the capability to make "good guesses" as
    to which electron layer relates to where. Even the scratches can be
    analyzed for data. The analysts who do this kind of work are very
    determined, very good, and have near orgasms when they are successful,
    no matter the data content. There are many ways to destroy those disks,
    but gouging them with a screw driver does not make the data
    irretrievable. Grinding the disks to a powder and incineration at high
    temperatures does however pretty much randomize the information and
    render the dust safe from compromise.

    The devices I have seen that do this kind of destruct basically is a big
    mechanical grinder that grinds case, electronics and all. The facility
    then moves waste to an incinerator (along with other sensitive materials
    also shredded) where it is incinerated at high temperatures. Most large
    metropolitan areas have companies who do this kind of work. I would
    recommend using a company in the business as it probably would be much
    cheaper, depending on the volume of media, and the sensitivity /
    liability of the data to be destroyed. Outsourcing sometimes makes good
    economic sense.

    Winged, Dec 23, 2005
  8. bavis

    nemo_outis Guest


    Hard drives shredders like the SEM 1424 do the job right.

    Sometimes you can find companies that specialize in data destruction
    (typically the same ones who do bulk shredding for major companies) who,
    for a small fee, will shred your HDs.

    If you're a real paranoid you'll want to witness the destruction and have
    the shredded pieces returned to you in a vial for your audit trail. SEM
    says that it will do this (well, the shredding part) for $7/drive; see, for


    I'm sure a little looking will find similar services in most urban centres.

    nemo_outis, Dec 23, 2005
  9. bavis

    Moe Trin Guest

    On Thu, 22 Dec 2005, in the Usenet newsgroup alt.computer.security, in article
    DOD 5220.22-M was renamed 'National Industrial Security Program Operating
    Manual' (NISPOM) (ISBN 0-16-045560-X) in 1995, and is only _required_ by
    contract. If you want to do more than that as part of a contracted service,
    see the contracting officer for that contract. Some of them are required to
    follow the book, rather than going the "extra mile".
    In most cases, there is nothing preventing you from destroying the drive
    _after_ wiping the drive and making the contracting officer happy. Do
    make sure to have a cast iron audit trail. 8 x 10 color pictures with
    the description printed on the back might be a good idea.
    The grinders aren't that expensive, but the furnace may require local
    licensing (air quality issues) that are a pain in the a$$. Companies
    that provide "off-site storage" of backup media will often offer this
    service as well.
    Economies of scale - very much so.

    Old guy
    Moe Trin, Dec 23, 2005
  10. <snip excellent detail>

    Aside from a "soft" wipe, there are/were another two other methods used over
    here in the UK - for medium-secure, the drive was soft-wiped, and a
    half-inch hole drilled through case and platters using a drill press..
    what's left flys even further apart as the platter starts to spin.

    For higher-level security, the entire unit is transported to a site as
    described by Winged, and a random sample turned on to ensure that the data
    that it left the establishment with was still inside the case; the whole
    unit is then crushed and incinerated. Lots of nasty gases released, so not
    that many locations over her with the right equipment.

    Somewhat ironically (for conventional thinkers) the equivalent of shredded
    documents are viewed as the least secure method of disposal - because one
    can't verify what was actually disposed.


    Hairy One Kenobi

    Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this opinion do not necessarily
    reflect the opinions of the highly-opinionated person expressing the opinion
    in the first place. So there!
    Hairy One Kenobi, Dec 23, 2005
  11. bavis

    Wayne Guest

    Tried a microwave oven? Set it only for 30 seconds, walk away or leave
    the room - there is a possibility that the microwave oven will be
    damaged. This should destroy the physical platter.
    Wayne, Dec 24, 2005
  12. bavis

    Donnie Guest

    That's about the closest answer to what I'm going to suggest. A propane or
    map gas tourch would do the trick.
    You probably don't even have to separate the platters. but if you still
    want to, a hammer and a chisel should break the retainer clips.
    Donnie, Dec 24, 2005
  13. Data Recovery Expert, Dec 24, 2005
  14. bavis

    Jim Watt Guest

    Only to promote the site to complete idiots.

    The topic is the physical destruction of magnetic media.

    If you are +that+ worried about the data, take out the
    platters and leave them in a bucket of salt water for a
    while, perhaps add some hydrochloric acid. data recovery
    might then present some problems ...
    Jim Watt, Dec 24, 2005
  15. bavis

    Jim Watt Guest

    Works well for optical media, ortherwise stupid.
    Jim Watt, Dec 24, 2005
  16. bavis

    dnss Guest

    After the platters are removed from the hdd how can the data be recovered?
    Why bother with the acid and salt treatment?
    dnss, Dec 24, 2005
  17. Jimmy Carter probably thought the same thing about shredding important
    documents ;o)

    Hairy One Kenobi, Dec 24, 2005
  18. bavis

    icono Guest

    For optical media one grasps opposite edges with the thumb and middle
    finger. Press until you hear a "click".
    icono, Dec 24, 2005
  19. bavis

    TwistyCreek Guest

    Actually, that's the best/only way to recover *some* data. Slap the
    platers in specialized equipment that isn't hindered by the lack of
    sensitivity and timing problems of consumer grade hardware, and suck every
    nybble right off a drive that's been "DOD Wiped" or some such nonsense.

    Professional data recovery folk routinely use clean rooms to disassemble
    and recover drives this way.
    TwistyCreek, Dec 24, 2005
  20. bavis

    Moe Trin Guest

    On Sat, 24 Dec 2005, in the Usenet newsgroup alt.computer.security, in article

    Gonna wash those bits right off, huh?

    <Rummages around the garage looking for chemicals>

    Hmmm, all I can find is a couple of gallons of Muriatic Acid (29%) and
    Sulfuric Acid (25%) which I normally use for pH control in the swimming
    pool. There's also some Sodium Carbonate (98%) if you need an alkali.
    By installing them in another drive.
    It makes them smell sweet.

    Old guy
    Moe Trin, Dec 24, 2005
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