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Windows 7: How to erase data on a drive that won't mount?

05 Dec 2011   #1
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 
How to erase data on a drive that won't mount?

I've been racking my brain on this problem for a while now and figured I'd throw this situation out to the crowd to see what kind of ingenious answers I could get to this problem.

I have a failed hard drive that I'd like to send back to get replaced but obviously want all my data wiped first. The problem is that the drive has failed so miserably that it won't even mount to any system in order to perform any sort of wiping. I've connected it to my system directly, via a USB to IDE adapter, and via an eSATA adapter in both Windows and Linux to no avail. Sometimes it will show up in the Device Manager under Hard Drives, but that's as far as it gets - it's never assigned a letter and doesn't show up in Disk Manager. It doesn't show up in Ubuntu when I perform an fdisk either so I can't perform a DD.

This is a bit of a catch 22 as the hard drive has failed to the point where it can't be read, but I'm not sure what measures are going to be employed to attempt to validate and read the data at the manufacturer when they test it for failure. If the drive all of a sudden starts working, there is too much personal data on there for me to just hope doesn't turn up.

Any ideas (other than mounting another similar drive's controller to it)?


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05 Dec 2011   #2
bassfisher6522

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

For me, if there's that much personal data on it, I wouldn't send it back at all but instead just buy a knew drive. Then to insure that the hard drive wont fall into the wrong hands and attempt to recover the data, I take a sledge hammer to them. Then dispose of the mess properly. POM as we call it....peace of mind....
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05 Dec 2011   #3
Mark Phelps

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit
 
 

Would be very interested in hearing any solutions to this problem -- as I had run into much the same issue a few weeks back when a fairly new WD 2TB drive suddenly started failing on me. I ran the WD diags against it -- but after a few minutes and only 2% (or so) into the drive, the utility seemed to hang up. Next day, it was at the same place -- so I rebooted and tried to run the low-level format utility (to erase the data). It too, failed.

Not wishing to provide 2TB of personal data to the folks at WD, I physically trashed the drive.

But ... it would be nice to know if there is a way to wipe out a damaged drive -- if this should happen again.
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05 Dec 2011   #4
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

Yea, that's pretty much where I stand on this. It isn't worth it at this point, even though HDD's have skyrocketed due to the artificial inflation. But, I wanted to throw it out there in case anyone had a novel idea I hadn't thought of.
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05 Dec 2011   #5
maxseven

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit 6.1 Build 7601 (SP1)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FliGi7 View Post
Any ideas (other than mounting another similar drive's controller to it)?
Well, that's what I was going to suggest (assuming could can lay your hands on an identical drive) but that assumes you REALLY REALLY want to try to recover the data. But barring that, I've got a couple of major magnets in my shop, one is used to pick-up nails & screws & whatnot and is very powerful, would likely destroy any drive...

In the end I doubt when you RMA the thing that anything is done beyond a cursory attempt perhaps to see if they can mount it. But if you're REALLY worried the contents might be extracted, then just destroy it.
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05 Dec 2011   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Use some strong magnets and "massage" the drive with those.
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05 Dec 2011   #7
essenbe

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint
 
 

I agree with Bassfisher, to me it is not worth the risk. As far as I know, there is no way to destroy the data that will not void the warranty. Supposedly, opening the case and the sealant thus exposing the hard drive to air will destroy the data, but it will also void the warranty. When my drives fail, they get the hammer treatment.
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06 Dec 2011   #8
Corazon

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit
 
 

Without a doubt, removing the harddisk's airtight seal will pretty much render it unusable due to near-instant contamination. It will practically guarantee a headcrash the next time the drive is powered up and starts spinning while the heads load onto the surface.

But - headcrash aside - it will not destroy any data on the platters whatsoever. Someone could even steal such an opened drive and simply send it in for professional data recovery - and all they'll need to do is polish and clean the platters, then go on their merry way about reading all the data straight off without much effort.

Hammer treatment? Sounds good to me.
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06 Dec 2011   #9
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

You would need really, really strong magnets to destroy large amounts of data on the disk. I think the general consensus is the same conclusion I had reached, so it's good to know I haven't missed anything. Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
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06 Dec 2011   #10
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
You would need really, really strong magnets
Like from an old defunct transformer.
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 How to erase data on a drive that won't mount?




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