Hard Disk Disposal

If you are discarding a disk or a computer with a disk installed, you must take measures to ensure any personal and/or confidential information on the disk is unreadable.

1. Writable Disks

If the disk is writable -- completely overwriting the disk one or more times should suffice.

  • #> dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=1M ​on a UNIX like system  will write zeros to the entire disk.

  • Darik's Boot And Nuke  -  DBAN is a self-contained boot disk that automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect.

  • ATA Secure Erase function that's included in the firmware of most drives these days is available with the hdparm tool (credit Randy Goldenberg,UBC-IT for this tip)

2. Non-Writable Disks

If the disk is non-writable then the disk may be effectively destroyed physically via a hydraulic press ("taco-chip" process).  See the images below for the result of this process.

"Taco-Chip" Process Details (For PHAS department members only)

  • $2 per standard size hard disk.

  • Submit the disk without any frames, slides, or carriers attached. Disks with additional parts attached will not be accepted.

  • Deliver disks to the PHAS machine shop in the Hennings Building Room 215-G (on the ground floor).

  • Include a completed, hardcopy JV with the disks.

  • The disks will be securely stored prior to destruction. The PHAS machine shop will send the destroyed disks for standard E-Waste processing unless instructed otherwise when the disks are dropped off.

diskDestruction_600x450_01.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_600x450_02.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_600x450_03.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_600x450_04.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_600x450_05.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_06s.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_07s.jpg (high-res version)

diskDestruction_08s.jpg (high-res version)

3. Other Options

If the taco chip process is not sufficient for your purposes then  we recommend you consider one of these alternatives...

  • The BC provincial government now provides a shredding facility to which you can send wirtable media (disks, phones, etc) for destruction.  Their web site lists a charge of $6/drive.
  • Electronic Recycling Association offers disk destruction (both on-site and off-site) in addtion to recycling all types of computer equipment.
  • Iron Mountain is a commerical company that offers disk destruction services.  They are used extensively on campus for paper shredding.