What is the best way to destroy a laptop so that nothing on it is recoverable? - Asking for a friend obviously

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A Gay Retard

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I'm amazed at the ultra-complicated responses to this. Open the HDD up, bend the platters, hit them with a drill press one or two times. Pop anything interesting-looking with a spring loaded center punch. Throw it out in your own trash can. You don't even have to bother writing zeros if you do that. Who gives a fuck?
 

Knight of the Rope

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I'm amazed at the ultra-complicated responses to this. Open the HDD up, bend the platters, hit them with a drill press one or two times. Pop anything interesting-looking with a spring loaded center punch. Throw it out in your own trash can. You don't even have to bother writing zeros if you do that. Who gives a fuck?
So am I, so I fixed your response so that it's more in line with my own response from earlier.
 

BelUwUga

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Whatever software overwrite "recipe" you prefer. Overwrite multiple times. Physically remove drives and ram. Degauss if you have a machine available. Use hammer and center punch to shatter platters and really destroy these. Order some kiln bricks as well as a few pounds each of iron filings and aluminum powder. Make a stoiciometric mix of the powders and place them in your makeshift furnace with computer remnants. Use a blowtorch to start the thermite. When it is done burning, break up the slag leftover and dispose of it in several separate locations. If it wasn't necessary and effective it's not what embassies, DoD, and spies do with sensitive info/hardware.
 

Kosher Dill

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When it is done burning, break up the slag leftover and dispose of it in several separate locations.
Good advice, but you forgot the most important part, which is that while you do this you should carry a shovel over your shoulder and sing some classic gravedigging tunes like "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A-Burying I Go". As long as you're drawing attention to yourself you should at least make it entertaining for us.
I mean them.
 

BelUwUga

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Good advice, but you forgot the most important part, which is that while you do this you should carry a shovel over your shoulder and sing some classic gravedigging tunes like "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A-Burying I Go". As long as you're drawing attention to yourself you should at least make it entertaining for us.
I mean them.
Don't forget it needs to be rolled up in an Electronics Disposal Rug for safety!
 

Pushing Up Tiddies

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military-spec data wipe that basically overwrites the entire disk with various patterns of 1s and 0s several times to make sure the original data is wiped
This hasn't been true since the 1970s. A single `dd if=/dev/zero` will suffice. Even better is ATA Secure Erase if your motherboard supports it, which a lot don't.
 

Hathungor

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You just need to destroy the data on the storage drive.

Physical destruction is overkill unless you have a state-level adversary with near unlimited resources on your ass, and even then it's probably overkill if you know what you're doing.

Fully formatting and overwriting them with junk data a couple of times will make any drive irrecoverable to pretty much anyone. Especially Linux makes this super easy with shred. If you need to wipe your system drive but only have one computer get DBAN or ShredOS, burn it onto a thumb drive, boot from that and go to town.


If you do want to destroy the actual drive these methods are the best I can come up with in 5 minutes. I wouldn't trust a magnet unless I've had a chance to test it beforehand.

SSD: Open it up and expose the NAND memory. Sever the contacts and pry the large black chips off the board or break off all the board around them (use 2 pairs of pliers). Hold them in a pair of pliers and use a metal file or a dremel to grind them into fine powder.

If that's too messy break them up as much as you can, hide the pieces in used tissues, empty cigarette packs, candy wrappers etc. and irregularly drop them into different trash bins all over town over the course of a at least a week or two (one at a restaurant bathroom on Tuesday, one at a bus stop on Friday and so on).
Do the breaking inside a pillow case to avoid stray pieces from scattering

HDD: Open it up and remove the discs. You just need to destroy the magnetic layer of cobalt alloy which is usually on a substrate of ceramic or glass or something, so a belt sander would probably be ideal. Otherwise, use a file or dremel again. Since the layer is usually extremely thin sandpaper will probably work too.


I heard Hunter Biden is an expert on these kind of things ^^ !
You should talk to him...

The funniest part is that those with the greatest need for proper data hygiene like politicians, pedos, terrorists or traitors tend to be the greatest walking liabilities. Using Whatsapp to send messages and files around, using unencrypted computers and drives because it's convenient, using cloud storage services, using the same "Password123!"-password and email address for every service and so on.
 
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milk

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use a live bootable USB like parrotOS to use bleach bit wipe the drives, then take a power drill to the hard drives.
 

Pushing Up Tiddies

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Fully formatting and overwriting them with junk data a couple of times will make any drive irrecoverable to pretty much anyone.
Pretty sure overwriting with zeroes once will be enough.

There was a guy years ago running a competition where he would mail you a drive he dd'd once and if you could recover any data off of it with magic magnetomicroscopy technology he would pay you a $10k bounty. Pretty sure he never had to pay out.

Especially Linux makes this super easy with shred.
Note this won't work on copy-on-write filesystems like ZFS, Btrfs, or if you're using LVM snapshots. The shred program is very naive in what it does, it expects the kernel under it to act in a simplistic way.

magnetic layer of cobalt alloy
This guy knows what he's talking about.
 

Hathungor

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Note this won't work on copy-on-write filesystems like ZFS, Btrfs, or if you're using LVM snapshots. The shred program is very naive in what it does, it expects the kernel under it to act in a simplistic way.
True, but if someone has to ask how to wipe a laptop I'm assuming we're dealing with standard consumer grade hardware and settings.

One thing I did remember reading about like 20 years ago is that wear on the bearings will, over years of usage, change the position of the head over the magnetic tracks ever so slightly, potentially leaving a thin track of the original data next to the overwritten one which can no longer be accessed in normal drive operations, but is sufficient for data recovery by a very dedicated adversary.

Only saw this mentioned once and never followed up on it, and with more miniaturization and the advent of SMR in consumer drives I'm not sure if this applies any longer or, if this still happens, any data can still be recovered.
 

AmpleApricots

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'm not sure if this applies any longer
It doesn't. Modern magnetic storage has basically zero tolerances. That's why one overwrite is enough. Same for flash based. The only thing where data could survive would be if the microcontroller of the drive in question does some creative redirecting e.g. because of hardware faults, leaving data intact in faulty sectors. But basically - see zero tolerances, that data is gone anyways. You'd have to get incredibly unlucky, which granted, might happen. In reality, law enforcement doesn't have the resources anyways. Three letter agencies might but that would need to be some very critical data.

Of course, if you just encrypt your data from the get-go before it even touches the drive's storage, you'll never have to worry about any of this. With microcontrollers in such devices being capable computers in themselves these days there's also still the theoretical angle of malware on your harddrive literally stealing your data or feeding your CPU with malicious instructions. This angle would be resolved by encryption to as the micro can neither change the data without corrupting it nor know what the drive stores.
 

Kosher Dill

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Anyway, now that we've all got our thermite LARPs out of our system, how about a follow-up question.
How many people here have actually physically destroyed a drive, and how and why?

Bonus question: when was the first time you heard the thermite LARP? For me it was a computer teacher in high school telling us some yarn about hackers with "kill switches" on their desktop PCs that would "burn through" the hard drive with thermite if the feds came a-knocking.