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Buying a second-hand hard drive?

     
8:08 am on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You would think that, with computers dominating every aspect of our lives, people would be aware that storage devices can retain information even after clicking "Empty Recycle Bin".

[theregister.co.uk...]

I doubt any of us would do this ... but remains a scary concept! Sledgehammers exist for a purpose. Use them!
8:26 am on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'd bought a 2nd hand desktop last year, user in young 20s and clearly into gaming so should have some practical knowledge of security. He'd made a decent go of deleting his personal stuff but there remained some sensitive stuff on there. IIRC one was his email which can be the ultimate weak point for security without 2 factor auth.
11:35 am on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Neighbour threw out an old Mac, left it on the curb. He told me I could have it, but he had hammered a nail through the hard drive, for data security. I took the Mac apart, and lo and behold he did put a nail through..the disk drive. The hard drive was intact, with all info. I wiped it and continue to use it on an old PC.
1:00 pm on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I would be reluctant to buy an old computer as it coukd have so many other issues, inclding malware, warranty, etc. I'd never buy a 2nd hand hd.
1:15 pm on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Many people do not realize that copiers, fax machines and other office equipment also can have a memory and those can often hold some extremely personal copies.
7:18 pm on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have bought second hand computers. Never had a problem. Things like hard drives have bathtub failure curves so they may even be safer buys if only an year or two old, and the warranty will not cover data loss or consequential damages.

I always reformat and reinstall everything. Usually I buy machines with Windows on them and I use Linux so I have to reformat and reinstall so malware is going to get removed.

I have removed and physically destroyed hard drives before, but I think a secure delete (e.g. linux shred utility) is good enough, especially if you encrypt the drive in the first place.
9:44 pm on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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With a lot of disks now being SSD this may well become an issue going forward. an SSD will be easier to attempt data recovery from because of the lack of moving parts. Whenever I dispose of a drive I trash it before it goes in the bin. By that I mean I pop it in a vice and take a hammer to it lol.

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9:55 pm on Apr 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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200 years from now, archaeologists will be reading our old drives... and questioning what had gone wrong in the early days of the information age. Ha.
8:31 am on Apr 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I always reformat and reinstall everything.

If you can get the licence for Windows. I assume you're installing Linux.

By that I mean I pop it in a vice and take a hammer to it lol.

Very similar to my process.
I have removed the motor and re-use that in a rat and mouse trap. lol
9:26 am on Apr 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If you can get the licence for Windows. I assume you're installing Linux.


Yes.

I have removed the motor and re-use that in a rat and mouse trap.


I have also pulled hard drives apart to show the kids what they look like on the inside (and you get some nice strong magnets out of them) and I put some particularly tough to open ones in a bonfire.
10:12 pm on Apr 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I remember a long time ago I had a disk fail and was able to recover the data by swapping the platters using donor parts from a 2nd hand drive I bought of eBay (same part number) That's the only time I have bought a 2nd hand drive and had good cause too. Wasn't quite as simple as I remember. I also had to swap over a circuit board. Even doing this I got text files ok.. about half my images were corrupted and video files were just nuked. Guess that's why the data recovery guys charge top bucks.

In my case, nothing on the drive was critical, so happy to experiment. (not recommended)

Mack.
9:51 pm on May 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Being a hard drive or not is somewhat irrelevant now, here is something else to consider if buying used electronic devices of any kind.

If you use a device that at any point was identifiable you are forever linked to it and the person who owned it. TVs, camera, game systems with forward facing cameras, vehicles, even kids handheld devices...

No electronic device is overlooked. If it is capable of sending a signal it will have been monitored and recorded for eternity so you become the new sender, for better or worse.

Not even online game accounts go unmonitored since 9/11
11:37 pm on May 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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f you use a device that at any point was identifiable you are forever linked to it and the person who owned it.


True. However HDs can be scoured clean (takes a bit of effort), and be useful thereon ... But why? Prices for spinning rust are in the basement these days. Why would you consider used stuff?