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Thread: What to do with apparently dead hard drives

  1. #1

    Default What to do with apparently dead hard drives

    As I'm going through my collection winnowing out those items that I don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful, I've come upon a couple of vintage hard drives that don't spin up (a TM-262 with its matching ISA controller, and a Conner CP3024). I'm in two minds about what to do with them. If they worked, however briefly, I could erase them. But I wouldn't want to dispose of them as they are; if they could be repaired, then whoever repairs them could get at the data on them, and I've no way of knowing whether they contain personal information that shouldn't be got at.

    So I'm leaning toward the conclusion that I've got to put them beyond use somehow (drill through the platters?) and then get rid of them at the local waste disposal site.

    Any other suggestions?

  2. #2
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    What kind of private information do you think is going to be on a 20 megabyte hard drive? Top secret bleeding-edge 1987 tech designs? Someone's Compuserve passwords? EGA goat porn?

    I have a hard time imagining someone pulling drives out of a Chinese landfill taking the time to repair any broken drives at all. They certainly would not know what to do with an MFM interface.

    They are already WAY beyond use to any normal person.

  3. #3
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    The magnets from the motors are handy.

  4. #4
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    I just hold onto them and use them as doorstops.
    = Excellent space heater

  5. #5
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    There's absolutely no way to repair these things right? Pretty much we are on the glide path to a future where none from that era work?

  6. #6

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    The only drives i keep hold of are the big MFM drives as long as they at least spin up, I find them useful to use as a load and i can re-use the drive carrier, Anything else gets dumped if i can't get it working, If i was worried about what may be on the drive, a drill and or a big hammer would take care of that.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    The magnets from the motors are handy.
    Ditto... I like to save neodymium magnets from the head actuators. I don't know what's in the motors, themselves.

    Also the shiny platters can come in handy at times.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  8. #8

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    I hate the idea of destroying old drives, even if there is data on them. Nobody is going to shed a tear for an IDE drive that was produced in the millions, but the older or more unusual drives should be preserved. Hard drive repair (beyond simple component swapping) isn't common because it is difficult, but it can be done.

    Also, at this point 20 or 30 year old data really isn't relevant. When I accept old drives or floppy disks I let people know what I'm going to do - erase and reuse. I'm not interested in their data. I will offer them a CD of their data, but I can do that without actually looking at the data. And in some cases I encourage them to take a look around because often there is good data that they have forgotten about. (This is often true of machines before the Internet became common.)

  9. #9
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    I deal with customer data on drives from the 80s that *do* contain relevant data. If the drive has crashed I typically save the controller board, disassemble the head/disk assembly (HDA), and the platters either get shredded or become target practice. That's for customer stuff with actual manufacturing trade secrets known to exist on the drives.

    If it's a MFM drive and it's seemingly dead, you can be pretty sure that even IF someone were to fix it, unless it's someone who knows there's something good on there and is working to get the data off, they're probably not going to be able to. MFM drives are essentially paired with their controller and require a low-level format to be used on a new controller. There are things like Dave Gesswein's MFM tool that can read drives from various controllers, but the average person who just wants to reuse a MFM drive probably isn't going to bother with something like that.

    For anything else that's actually working, I just DBAN it, or if I don't care about what was on there, `mkfs.ext2 -cc` under Linux just to quick pattern-test the drive and make sure it's still in good shape.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbbrutman View Post
    I hate the idea of destroying old drives, even if there is data on them.
    Same here.

    Hard drive repair (beyond simple component swapping) isn't common because it is difficult, but it can be done.
    Are you into this sort of repair? If not, might you know someone who is?

    I have quite a few HH and FH MFM drives, e.g., Maxtor, Miniscribe, Micropolis, Seagate, Toshiba, Teac, Imprimis and Tulin that could benefit from somebody who knows how to do this.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

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