Throwing Old Computer Away Harddrive Questions

Have a very old desktop computer that i had stored in a closet that i used a while back. I am going to throw it in the garbage and i know you are suppose to destroy the hard drive. My issue with this is i can’t open the back of the desktop up, i opened few of the screws but few of the screws i cannot get it out and thus i can’t get to the hard drive.
I used this computer many many years ago and i know when you throw something out like computer, hard drive is most important to be broken. Is there a way around this? Im just planning to just dump it in the garbage because i can’t get to the hard drive.

If you google the make/model of the machine, there will likely be instructions on removing/replacing the hard drive for it.

As for other options, does the computer still boot? If so, there are plenty of disk wipe utilities available (ie DBAN). Most of these will do a good enough job of wiping the disk.

If you cannot boot the system or remove the drive, just give the drive a few hard whacks with a hammer. You do not need to destroy it, just cause the heads to be out of alignment.

BFH. Big Freaking Hammer. Or a sledge hammer. Beat the computer until the box breaks open then beat the hard drive a lot.

You can also use a Sawz-All on the case to open it and then use the same saw to cut the hard drive in half. Personally, I have a torch setup and I cut the hard drive up with that.

Driving a very large nail through the platters with a sledgehammer will do it. Only the feds could reconstruct that data.

And it’s highly satisfying. Wacking day!

Ended electronic equipment is highly unsuitable for garbage and it’s easier to drop it off for recycling; they can sort out the hard drive as well — you only have to destroy that if it holds any personal information you prefer private: if it’s just general operating system stuff etc., it won’t matter.
And if it’s that old and unused it’s unlikely to to have much stuff that worries you.

Bake it in the oven? Just out of curiosity, how hot and for how long?

The last time I tossed a hard drive (it failed, so I couldn’t wipe it), I opened the case of the HD (no small feat), rubbed rare earth magnets all over the platters, then removed the heads and took pliers to the platters, twisting them into fun and interesting shapes.

Our old HDs get a maul put through them. Most satisfying.

If you can’t figure out how to open the case, smash** the front of the case** with a sledge hammer. The front panels of PCs have been made of plastic since, like, forever. Usually they’re only clipped on and just pull straight off the front. But if you have to smash it open start there…

Do NOT throw it in the garbage!
That’s toxic and now illegal almost everywhere.
But, you CAN bust open the case and throw the bits of the case in the trash.

If you live near a Best Buy, they will take in your old computers for recycling. As part of that process, they take out the hard drives and put them through a drill press treatment.

I just drill a big hole through them.

I’ve done that too, long ago and far away. But I wouldn’t do it with any hard drive manufactured after 2000. At least, not without looking closely at the platters. Many of them are made with glass platters, not aluminum, so taking pliers to them would result in a flurry of fast-moving glass shards, hopefully not in your face.

These tend to be the low-profile (often 2.5" laptop) drives.

I guess, look before you whack.

Somehow I saw this as ‘before you look whack.’

Since the OP can’t physically get to the HD, the most obvious solutions won’t work.

I wonder if soaking the whole box in a big tub for a week would mess up the HD enough to prevent it being poked by a basic tech snoop later on? Maybe add some salt or something to speed corrosion of the electronics.

That would also seriously mess up the whole box definitely making it trash.

I’m not sure why the OP can’t remove the screws. Locking pliers can usually take care of them if you don’t care about damaging the screws. Or I’d use a Dremel or a hacksaw to cut a slot in the head for a regular screwdriver. In the worst case cut the head off.

Once access is gained to the HD, just whacking/scraping the circuit board on it is enough. It would take a very determined person to locate and replace the circuit board of a random HD found in the trash. Removing the label would make it really hard on the guy to determine the substitute.

A computer box alone is not really toxic trash compared to a lot of other household garbage and only the most finicky places care about their disposal. CRTs OTOH are not to be sent to the landfill.

Well, first I’d ask the OP what might be on the hard drive that anybody else would care about? It’s not like your saved games from Quake II and browsing history from 2006 are going to allow anyone to take over your bank accounts or anything.

And even if there is something embarassing there, you should consider what the chances are of anybody running across it. Remember. unless you’re Edward Snowden or someone, nobody is hanging around waiting to go through your garbage looking for something electronic they might be able to pull some kind of data off of. And even if falls out of the garbage truck and somebody finds it on the street, how many people are going to go “Look, a 250 MB hard drive that I can’t even connect to my computer without special adapter cables! I’m totally going to pick it out of the trash and hook it up!”

I’m just saying spending a lot of effort to forestall a very very remote circumstance is not always the best use of time and effort. If I had to get rid of a hard drive I hadn’t used for years, I’d rest pretty easy just dropping it in my kitchen trash bag. If someone wants to dig through the rotting stuff I cleaned out of my fridge so they can find a copy of my 2005 tax return, more power to them.