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How to Erase Your Data With Thermite

Over at Hackaday they've gone a bit fiery destruction crazy, and posted a guide on how to destroy HDDs with thermite—that's the super-high temperature chemical mix used in welding, fireworks, and generalized military destruction. The guide shows how a kilo of burning thermite melts clean through a PC case, hard drive platters and all, turning them into pools of melted metal...which may be handy if you, uh, ever need to, um, "destroy" your data in an emergency. Hmmm. Check out the video, which is pyrotechnically cool, then see the hard drives post-incineration.

Illustration for article titled How to Erase Your Data With Thermite

Yup, that glowing mess was once a hard drive. Thermite's a blend of iron oxide and aluminum, and when it goes off it's pretty crazy, reaching iron-melting temperatures in seconds, and spitting gobbets of metal everywhere. So don't try this at home. Really. 'Cause it might not stop reacting at the bottom of your PC case, and molten metal dropping through your floor is just bloody dangerous. [Hackaday]

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In the 70's I was a summer intern working with a group that was testing Thermite on hard drive data destruction. Yes you have to pack the Thermite just right around the hard drive to insure the platters are completely melted and fussed together. Dynamite won't work it leaves too much of the platter intact and you can recover the data. Testing was done on 8" and 5 1/4" hard drives. You could roast a hot dog 50' from the test stand.