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Shooting At Computer Hard Drives

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I have had several old desktop computers languishing in my closet for years. One was so old it had Windows 95 in it. Finally my wife wanted rid of them because they were taking up too much space. I didn't want to toss them for fear someone could take the hard drive out and retrieve the information. So I took them out on the patio, pulled them apart, and removed the hard drives.

The other day I took them to the range, along with my Ruger Model 77 Stainless in .30-06. I set them out on a berm at 75 yards, and had at them. The results were all similar to this one. These things are really tough! They're made from a very heavy cast Aluminum housing. The Western Digital models like the one in the photos seem to be the toughest. But the 168 Gr. Sierra Matchking sailed right through, no problem.

The first shot hit just to the left of center, right under the bar code. The next one nicked the edge, but as you can see in the other photo, it blew the whole upper left corner of the housing completely off, exposing the platter and arm. It landed on edge, so I put one edgewise into the right side, and that pretty much finished it off. That last shot blew the unit right over the top of the berm, and I found it about 30 feet on the other side of the berm itself.

The other hard drives all met with a similar fate. It was fun to be able to shoot at something other than paper all the time. And I doubt that anyone will be extracting any information off of them now!

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The information on a hard drive is compacted to such a degree that veritable Bibles of information can be gleaned from a sliver one inch wide at the periphery. I have read about drives that went through fires, had the platters melted out of shape and still had salvageable data retrieved. The good part about salvaging a hard drive is that it is very expensive. It has to be disassembled in a cleanroom and handled as if the people doing it were handling the Andromeda Strain. The equipment to extract the data from the removed platters is also very expensive. Your common ID thief isn't going to have this equipment at hand, have access to it nor pay the money to have the data salvaged. I'd take the drives, cinch 'em up in a vise and cut them into halves or even into quarters with a hacksaw. Then I'd find a deep lake and take a little boat ride. Just don't let them fall overboard too close together...
 

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