How Not to Dismantle a Hard Drive

November 6th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Did you know the platters in most hard disk drives these days are made of glass? Neither did I, until last week…

Shattered Glass Hard Disk Platter

What ever happened to good ‘ole fashioned aluminum discs? Thanks to a particularly rash and forceful extrication technique, I managed to spray bits of shattered, data-covered glass over half of my garage. Luckily, the pieces weren’t very sharp, as manufacturers apparently mix in some ceramic for good measure.

In case you were wondering about the whole scene to begin with, here’s the scoop: The drive was bad. I was after the wonderful, super-powerful neodymium magnets that reside within every modern hard drive (they’re part of the drive’s voice coil actuator assembly). I had previously given my entire hard disk magnet collection to my dad for use in his seismograph dampening system (doh!), so, naturally, I wanted some more. In the end, I got them — along with a room full of glass, a pretty picture, and a story to tell the grandkids.

17 Responses to “How Not to Dismantle a Hard Drive”

  1. apronk Says:

    Benj, you’re great and all, but if those are the kinds of stories you plan to tell your grandkids…maybe you should save a few shards of that glass because they’ll need it to slit their wrists.

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Wow. That was harsh.

  3. Jonathan Signor Says:

    Hmm, interesting. I haven’t yet come across one of those, but usually I dismantle drives after they fail following many years of faithful service.

  4. ModemDoc Says:

    Well at least you don’t have to worry about anyone recovering that embarrassing pron collection subdirectory.

  5. apronk Says:

    You know I was joking, I hope…

    I felt compelled to take advantage of the glass shards / boring grandpa stories opportunity there…

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    Apronk, you need practice using the smiley. 🙂

  7. apronk Says:

    Benj, I cannot do that. I won’t allow myself to resort to the smiley. Perhaps I’ll stick with “LOL”s and maybe even an emoticon here and there. Those I can do.

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    But the smiley is an emoticon. I personally think LOL is worse than using a smiley.

  9. apronk Says:

    I’ll compromise and stick to the traditional emoticon, and avoid both cartoon-y smilies and LOL.


    And sometimes I may throw in \m/ \m/

  10. ejk Says:

    You must have missed this classic from the tragically cancelled Screen Savers on Tech TV with Leo and Patrick (the good part is at about 4 minutes in):

  11. Benj Edwards Says:

    That’s a pretty good link, ejk. Thanks for sharing. Looks like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know that some (maybe even most) modern platters are made of glass. 🙂

  12. Andrew Says:

    Cool, and the video was good 🙂

    What are the magnets for anyway? I don’t even have a normal magnet myself, nevermind an industrial strength one handy for anything.

  13. Benj Edwards Says:

    The magnets in the hard drive are part of the assembly that moves the arm with the read/write heads on it back and forth across the platter. Check out the link in my article if you want more technical info.

  14. Andrew Says:

    I more meant what were you using the magnets for after getting them out? 🙂

    I, luckily, already know the basics of harddrive design, hehe.

  15. Benj Edwards Says:

    Oh. 🙂 Well, I like using the magnets to hold heavy, thick objects to my fridge. They’re also just neat to play around with. High novelty factor.

  16. Mark Says:

    They are also great for pinching your fingers. Trust me, it hurts a lot.

  17. Benj Edwards Says:

    Oh yeah, I hate it when that happens, Mark. Those magnets are downright dangerous sometimes.

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