Protecting your personal information - permanently

Consumer magazine Which? has issued a paper on how to protect your personal data when disposing of IT hardware. Pointing out that fraudsters are accustomed to buying used kit on eBay and the like, then scouring discs for personal data (which becomes particularly tempting when local councils ditch PCs full of data there), they recommend physically destroying drives with a hammer.

This is excellent – if completely obvious – advice. Seeing as I don’t have a hard disc shredder, my personal preference when dealing with laptop disposal is to drive over the unit with a Land Rover, or put a Black & Decker through the whole machine half a dozen times. Does anyone out there have a preferred technique for device disposal?

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I've of course been informed that trashing PCs is irresponsible - aside from the potential for shrapnel from smashing discs, and the possible release of toxic chemicals, the machine could be reused by charities such as Computer Aid International. Fair point. In the case of those machines I've destroyed, it's been done where the machine itself was damaged and there was no practical means to get at the data short of stripping it apart to get the the disc, and the machine itself was *so* old as to be of no interest event to a charity... and I still took the remnants to a recycling centre.
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Anyone who has tried to thoroughly destroy a Hard Drive by simply smashing with a hammer would likely agree that it's a fairly hazardous activity and almost guarantees injury to the person from flying shrapnel! Health & Safety managers would be unlikely to endorse Which Magazine's solution, never mind the time it would take where a large quantity of HDDs are being disposed of. A professional, secure and very permanent method is for IT Managers to employ a specialist Data Destruction business, who can meet the requirements of BS8470:2006 (Secure Shredding Destruction of Confidential Material). Either on-site or off-site professional shredding of loose Hard Disk Drives into unrecognisable tiny pieces is achievable using the AMI 'DiskShred' service for instance. Specifying government-accredited data wiping software such as 'Blancco Data Cleaner', is an alternative proven method of protecting against identity theft or fraud where the equipment is likely to be re-used or donated to charities.
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Remove the hard drive from the machine, dismantle everything and use the platters to make a wind-chime. The rest of the computer can go to a charity that will recycle whatever is recyclable.
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