Earlier this week you learned how to properly erase your physical media using primarily software methods. If you prefer physical destruction as the path to true data security, these videos are for you. Photo by jon_a_ross.
Lifehacker reader object started us down this road of videotaped hard drive destruction by sharing the following gem—a video from Hack a Day on using thermite as an anti-forensic tool. What unholy magic is this thermite you ask? Turns out it's not black magic but better living through chemistry: The entire process is a basic reaction between finely powdered aluminium and iron oxide, with burning magnesium as a catalyst. We here at Lifehacker are neither your legal team nor friendly local E.R. staff and would suggest you consult with both before unleashing a nearly unstoppable torrent of molten metal on anything.
If you're not willing to to risk the potential wrath of the law or self-immolation by giving your drives a thermite bath, don't despair. Molten drives are just the tip of the platter-wrecking iceberg. In the camp of perfectly legal—but if done carelessly you'll still meet your friendly local E.R. staff—is death by firing squad. Most people would be surprised how hardy a little hard drive can be. Many a tank-like hard drive has shrugged off light handgun and rifle fire with neigh but a dent, the gentleman in the following video approaches the task properly with a shotgun. The video unfortunately doesn't show him retrieving the drive at the end but I can assure you from my own hard drive disposal efforts involving high-speed projectiles that the data is well beyond the reach of anyone outside an extremely specialised and well funded forensics lab.
Finally, a peek at what happens when your company ships off an entire truckload of drives to be disposed of. Large scale data disposal companies use a variety of tools. Industrial strength shredders are often used to render drives nothing more than pile of metal and plastic flakes. As you'll see in the video, the design of these industrial shredders is such that even a hard drive with an intense will to live can't cling to the side of the chute for long before meeting its fate.
If you have your own data disposal techniques to share—successes or failures are both equally interesting—sound off in the comments below.