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Thread: What to do with apparently dead hard drives

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    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?
    You never know. One 80s computer I bought on eBay had obviously been used to run a hotel. I only investigated briefly before wiping the drive, but it could have contained customers' or employees' personal information - and even after 30 years I'd be hesitant about letting someone have it.

  2. #12
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    I don't know about that connor, but if those are suffering from head "stiction", that TM-262 might let you manually actuate the heads or spindle motor I don't have a TM-262, but I have several drives with accessible steppers where I can give them a push, then power them up and they will run. If it does and it reads/formats OK, then I'd park the heads and hold on to that drive in case someone gets desperate enough to figure out how to fix those issues.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    I don't know about that connor, but if those are suffering from head "stiction", that TM-262 might let you manually actuate the heads or spindle motor I don't have a TM-262, but I have several drives with accessible steppers where I can give them a push, then power them up and they will run. If it does and it reads/formats OK, then I'd park the heads and hold on to that drive in case someone gets desperate enough to figure out how to fix those issues.
    If it's a last-ditch effort, I've also opened the HDAs and freed heads up. I've fixed a few drives that way, a pair of RD52As are still running fine with nothing but the factory bad sectors, and a little LaPine drive which still gets occasional use. In other cases, it's worked long enough to get data off, but the drives either suffered some other failure or would get sticky after even a few hours of power-off.

  4. #14
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    Taking the long view, I suspect that with SSDs improving in density all the time, that we may soon be buried in old rotating rust.

  5. #15

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    I've probably got enough spinning rust in 2.5" and 3.5" stashed away to last me the rest of my lifetime and beyond if i used em.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnElliott View Post
    You never know. One 80s computer I bought on eBay had obviously been used to run a hotel. I only investigated briefly before wiping the drive, but it could have contained customers' or employees' personal information - and even after 30 years I'd be hesitant about letting someone have it.
    Reminds me of a PC I had helped a relative clean some material the previous owners left on. Their daughter worked in a specialized medical doctors office, and she gave them an old pc they were no longer using in the office. It was supposedly cleaned, however I found several spots were information was stored outside the normal user folders.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnElliott View Post
    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?
    Its quite possible that drives which don't spin up can be made to work long enough to get the data off. Sometimes freezing will help, perhaps it changes the tolerances enough to get it spinning. I recovered a 20meg drive in toshiba portable which simply had a stuck head latch, so I would physically damage the platter. Seeing as its a flying head, I would say any distortion would render it largely
    un-readable...
    Dave
    G4UGM

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  8. #18
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    I've encountered a couple of drives that had lost their servo track (these were voice-coil closed-loop servo positioners). They're basically dumpster fodder, as I know of no way to recover a servo track without destroying the data on the drive.

  9. #19

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    I bet somebody somewhere knows how to attach an external resolver. There's probably big money in that.

  10. #20

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    Before declaring an old hard drive dead, try oiling the stepper motor. This method recently worked for me to bring back one old Western Digital IDE-XT drive that wouldn't initialize at POST to perfect working condition.


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