Thursday, February 05, 2009

Data Integrity

It's a fact of life. Every now and then, a hard drive craps out in the Gewehr98 home network of computers and fileservers. There are at any given moment approximately a dozen or so of the Gawd-forsaken things spinning their little hearts out, and Murphy is well aware of it as time progresses. Nor does Mr. Murphy give me a lot of warning when he strikes, either.

During my military days, we had this awesome machine that would zorch the living bejeezus out of magnetic media, including complete hard drive assemblies. Nothing was safe from that industrial degausser, and one would do well to heed posted warnings about having watches and wallets a safe distance from the device while it was in operation.

Alas, I don't have access to that machine anymore, but thanks to my training, I firmly believe that the dead hard drives should still be rendered safe from data thievery before final disposition.

So my solution was perhaps a little more brutal, yet elegant at the same time.

I simply perforate the little buggers.

With high-velocity lead and copper, that is.

What's interesting, however, is how the aforementioned perforation happens.

A recalcitrant hard drive is lovingly placed in front of a suitable berm, and the owner retreats 100 yards to a position where he can initiate the process.

Here's the first in the series, with a representative .308 Winchester 168gr Sierra MatchKing HPBTM round as fired from a Remington 700PSS rifle. Note the entrance hole:

And the exit hole:

Pretty darned tidy, ain't it? That's one hard drive that'll be somewhat difficult to spin up again, guaranteed.

It could be tidier, I suppose. This is another dead hard drive (I got plenty, trust me...) posing with a wildcat 6.5-06 round identical to the one that perforated it. That would be a .264", 120gr moly-coated Nosler Ballistic Tip traveling at a sedate 3200fps for the uninitiated. The delivery device is a somewhat famous Krieger-barreled 98 Mauser, demonstrably capable of 8" groups at 1000 yards:

Looks like it got drilled, no muss, no fuss. The backside looks nearly as clean and neat, although it appears the Ballistic Tip did open up somewhat once inside:

I'm all about equal opportunity, though. The next hard drive got its soul knocked loose by something a bit slower and heavier. Witness a .458" 405gr Beartooth Hard Cast Gas-Checked bullet, loaded into a .45-70 round and launched by a Ruger #1S at a hot-rodded 2100fps. Now, these things kick like the proverbial mule, and I'm not embarrassed to say that I flinch at times. So I pulled the shot to the right just a smidgen, but I still connected with the internal platters, as intended:

Yeah, baby, that's what I'm talking about! And the backside looks downright non-functional, too:

Let's look at that from a different angle, shall we?

Label intact, but I'd say that the warranty is probably voided anyway. I dunno, maybe someday I'll ship one off to customer service and get their take on the problem after I've had a go at it.

I had yet another hard drive that wouldn't give me the time of day, let alone anything else, so I set it up at 25 yards and had a one-way conversation with it, via a Smith & Wesson Model 52. This particular 1961-vintage autoloader launches a .38 Special 148gr wadcutter at, oh, say, comfortable velocities, and with exceptional accuracy, as owners of these rare birds will attest. This was a Berry's Plated 148gr DEWC, and while it didn't quite make it through the hard drive, it still performed the required task of preventing any future rotary motion of the internal platters:

Conversely, if one takes a different .38 Special round, namely a 158gr SWC in the +P loading, and launches it into yet another dead hard drive from a converted 5-screw S&W 6" PPC/Steel Challenge revolver, then we get a bit more penetration (sounds kinda perverted, don't it?):

The last one was so much fun that I double-tapped the sucker. I'd have dumped the whole cylinder into it, but the drive fell off the rack after the second round. Bummer.

So what have we learned here? Let me summarize:

1. Shooting is fun.

2. Hard drives die.

3. Shooting dead hard drives is fun.

4. Dead hard drives with bullet holes tell no tales.

I've since accrued/created a few more dead hard drives, and of course, I have plenty of other projectile delivery systems waiting to dispatch said drives. Once the weather gets out of the sub-zero phase, we'll have to revisit the technique. Remember those 500gr Hornady monster .45-70 loads I illustrated earlier? Then there's the .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. Stay tuned...


KD5NRH said...

So, what do you do with the drives afterward? There are a lot of good plans for wind turbines that use the head positioning magnets from dead HDDs.

Ritchie said...

Just for variety, I'm told that hard drives in secure installations sometimes incorporate a tray of sodium nitrate and an initiator. The housing and platters being aluminum, merry times will follow in the wake of such great encouragement. Not just incinerated, not just melted, but combusted. I suppose a .gov could get HDs made with magnesium cases if they really wanted them.

Que said...

Nice writing!