What Can You Do With Old Hard Drives?


A question that is often asked is, “What to do with old hard drives when I scrap a computer or get a new hard drive?”.

The answer is that there are plenty of interesting and useful things that you can use old hard drives for! You might even be able to save some money!

This article will explore topics for what to do with old external hard drives, how to use old hard disk parts, and what to do with old laptop hard drives.

Here are some options for what you can do with old hard drives

  • Sell them
  • Reuse them
  • Use them for a different purpose 
  • Destroy them

If you are interested in finding out more about how to use old hard disks and how you can save money and maybe even get some income from them, carry on reading.

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What to do With Old Hard Drives if They are Still Working?

The first and easiest option is:

Sell Them!

Old hard drives can be sold to raise some cash. Hard drives from old, obsolete computers can be worth money. You can list them on auction sites specializing in computer parts or on generic auction sites like eBay.

Just make sure that you securely wipe all your data off the old drive before selling it. Just deleting files isn't enough; you need specialist data erasure software configured to high-security levels.

Reuse Them

There are some great ideas for what to do with your old hard drives that still work, turning them into additional places for storing your data. These require some technical skills, but if you don't have them, you might find a friend that does!

The reuse options include:

  • Converting it into a portable external hard drive
  • Using it to store archives
  • Creating a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device

But before you get excited about re-using your old hard drive and saving some money, you need to be sure that your old hard drive is OK – you don’t want to put in lots of effort on how to use old hard disks only to find that they have issues like losing data.

Convert the Old Hard Drive into a Portable External Hard Drive

We all store more and more on our disk drives. Pretty soon, they fill up.  So this is a great option for what to do with old hard drives. Turning it into an external hard drive gives you:

  • Extended life for the old hard drive
  • More space to store files
  • The ability to easily share your data with other computers
  • If you are trying to find out what to do with old external hard drives, this isn’t an option. 

Converting an old hard drive into a portable external hard drive has two stages:

1: Prepare an enclosure for the hard drive to go into.

  • A hard drive enclosure is a box that holds the drive and protects it from damage. HDD enclosures are easily purchased online or from specialist computer stores. 
  • Check that the enclosure is the correct size for your hard drive and uses the same interface, e.g. SATA.

2: Reformat the old hard drive to wipe the data

  • Mount your old hard drive in your new drive enclosure, then use File Explorer to reformat the drive. Don’t forget to transfer any files you want to save to another hard drive first.

Using an Old Hard Drive to Store Archived Files

Most computers have spare SATA ports that you can use to connect to an old hard drive quickly and easily.

Once connected, it can be used as an archive drive, storing those old files, photos, games, videos and more that you rarely access but want to keep safe and free up space on your main disk drive. 

This is also a great option for what to do with old external hard drives that still work.

Create a Network Attached Storage Device (NAS)

This option is perfect for what to do with old external hard drives. They are already designed to be easily attached to a computer – all that’s needed is to make them visible across the network. 

This isn’t an option, though, for what to do with old laptop hard drives – they are usually too small to fit into a NAS enclosure.

Think of a NAS as your personal data cloud, with contents that you and the rest of your team/family can access from any computer attached to your network and even your mobile. 

That can include things like: 

  • Your digitized music collection 
  • Photos & videos
  • Instruction manuals

In fact, anything that you want to be shared.

With the right design and configuration, a NAS can also provide your data with extra protection using a technique called RAID, so if one drive fails, you don’t lose any of your data. 

Creating a NAS does need a level of technical skill, but there’s plenty of advice available for how to do it on the internet.

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What to do With Old Hard Drives That Are Dead?

One option for hard drives that no longer work is to destroy them, either using a specialist recycler like TechReset or by doing it yourself.

Destroying an old hard drive will ensure that your data can never be read, but there are some creative alternatives that you might like to try! 

With a bit of imagination, anyone can dream up exciting ideas for how to use old hard disk parts.

Here are just some of the ideas for how to use old hard disks in unusual ways. These work for any type of hard drive that isn’t a solid-state drive, so they can be great options for what to do with old external hard drives and internal ones. 

Make a mirror

Inside every hard disk drive, there is a small, shiny platter. With care, these can be extracted from the old hard drive and made into tiny mirrors that you can use to:

  • hang on your computer screen to see who is coming up behind you
  • use to put on make-up
  • decorate furniture
  • scare birds form crops

and more!

This is a useful and fun option for what to do with hard drive platters!

Use the Magnets

Magnets are handy for :

  • Picking up small metal items that you’ve dropped
  • Safely storing metal knives
  • Keeping cupboard doors closed

and more!

The good news is that old hard drives contain powerful magnets!

Modern sculpture

If you have a creative mind and some strong glue, old hard drives can be put together with other old computer parts to make modern sculptures.

Just make sure that you wipe the drives first if your artistic creation falls into the wrong hands!

These are just a few suggestions. With a bit of thought, I’m sure you could come up with more great ideas for what to do with old hard drives that don’t work anymore! Thinking about what to do with old external hard drives and other types of hard disks will challenge your creative abilities and provide plenty of fun! 

If repurposing old hard drives is not something you feel skilled enough to do, but you still want to ensure your old hard drives are securely destroyed, contact TechReset about their data destruction services. 

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