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Thread: Bulk erasing

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    Bulk erasing

    I've got an old external hard drive and a few dozen floppies (1.44 mb) that contain confidential data. I don't care whether the disks themselves are destroyed; I just want to be sure the data are securely erased. Software solutions (e.g,, BCWipe or Eraser) aren't practical because of the number of floppies and the slow speed of the hard drive. Does anyone know of a relatively inexpensive and reliable way of bulk-erasing this stuff?

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    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Bulk erasing

    Not unless you want to use the old random method of placing the floppies on a good strong magnet for a few secs. Used to work with the old 5 1/4" flops? For the HD use a good file shredder. Search the forum for that subject. It was just on recently, I think. See post <post#=216423>post 216423</post#>

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    If you have a fireplace, I would chunk em there. <img src=/S/fire.gif border=0 alt=fire width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    A shredder is what I meant by "software eraser." I'm looking for a hardware solution, because the software solution is just too time-consuming to be practical. BTW, if anyone is looking for a software solution, however, Eraser (mentioned in the thread you cite) is great and free. The correct URL to obtain it has changed, however, from that cited in the thread. It's now maintained at: http://www.heidi.ie/eraser.

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    Alas, no fireplace (and it's probably illegal to burn that stuff here even if I had one -- ari quality regs and all that). I keep thinking that there must be something like a powerful electromagnetic degausser, sort of like those things (about the size of a clothes iron, if memory serves) that were used to bulk-erase video tapes.

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    A magnet and a pair of scissors will do a perfectly adequate job for numbers between 1 and 100, beyond that you could buy a commercial degausser and an acid bath!

    StuartR

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    Plutonium Lounger Leif's Avatar
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    Re: Bulk erasing

    Hard disk - a sledgehammer would be your safest bet.

    How many floppies are you talking about?
    The problem with using an "domestic" electromagnet solution would be in guaranteeing the disk had become unreadable, but it may still be your "greenest" solution. If you work in an office environment, check to see if you have electro-magnets holding your fire dors open - they may be an easy and efficient option, albeit you may attract some funny looks.
    Or you could try cooking them at 200C for 20 minutes in a normal oven - I wouldn't use a microwave because of the metal content.
    Or a garden refuse shredder?

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    This brings out the violent tendencies in me. Where do I start?

    HDD:
    First, I'd go with Leif's BFH (Big Fat Hammer) erasing device. Verrrrrry effective. Cross-platform too.

    You could take it apart - sort of like a post-mortem - just to see what's going on. In my experience, this is much more fun if you don't have to worry about putting the damn thing back together again.

    After so many years of having to be extra careful to prevent damage to such devices, it could be interesting to see just how much they can stand. Sort of stress-testing, if you like. If the label states it should not be exposed to a blow of 75 G's, try 76. I don't know how you'd measure the g-force, but it would be fun finding out.

    Floppies:
    Garden shredder - I think Leif and I are of the same mind in this thread. Squeeze every last bit of life out hardware before calling it redundant, but when it's got to go, it's got to go in style. The normal safety caveat applies here - goggles are good. (BTW Have you ever snapped a CD? Not so good).

    Heat is probably the key, either directly or indirectly. The oven idea may taint the flavour of anything cooked in it afterwards. Does seem a pity that you can't just BBQ them.

    Wrap a batch of them in duct tape and halve them with a hacksaw?

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    Boy, talk about a lack of imagination.
    Do you own a gun? Think gun range! <img src=/S/bullseye.gif border=0 alt=bullseye width=45 height=15>
    If you do not, the local police department does and they always have a SMG (sub machine gun) that someone is itching to shoot. <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15>
    Just an idea
    or give it to your three year old, 5 minutes and no data guaranteed.

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    RadioShack sells two models of bulk erasers -- one designed for audio cassettes and one (more powerful) designed for video cassettes. Either will erase a floppy disk in a few (<20) seconds. Disks would have to be reformatted to be used again.

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    Re: Bulk erasing

    I believe 20G's equates to something like a fall of 6 inches, which is all most drives are rated as withstanding. Throwing them out of a first floor window (that's 2nd floor US) should be more than adequte to snap the drive arms, but this method won't necessarily render the platters totally unrecoverable.
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