What is Hard Drive Recycling?


Hard drive recycling is the terminology used when a computer hard drive is taken apart then mechanically shredded or crushed to extract the raw materials for recycling, or when the hard drive’s data is completely overwritten so the drive can be reused. 

The second method of hard disk recycling requires a data erasure tool. Manually deleting files from a drive does not delete the data – it merely removes the index to it so a computer operating system cannot read it. 

Full data erasure can only be achieved by using specialist data erasure tools or by physically destroying the disk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hard Drive Recycling

what is hard drive recycling?

Are Hard Drives Recyclable?

Yes, all types and makes of hard drives can be recycled; some are easier to do than others. 

Can I Recycle my Old Hard Drive?

You can attempt hard drive recycling yourself.  It is possible to take a hard drive apart and damage the disk where the data is stored with skill and the correct tools, but there’s still a small risk that a determined criminal or law enforcement agency could recover the data. 

Why Recycle Hard Drives?

Data is one of the most valuable commodities in today’s business world. If sensitive data gets into the wrong hands, then the damage can be catastrophic for your organization, employees, and customers.

Hard drive recycling from specialists like TechReset can help to stop this from happening to you. We guarantee to get rid of everything from your surplus IT equipment.

Our data destruction and hard disk recycling services ensure that your information is safely and completely removed, allowing the safe and secure resale, repurposing, or disposal of your used IT equipment.

When Should Hard Drives be Recycled?

Recycling hard drives should always be done when IT equipment is:

  • Sold
  • Donated
  • Scrapped
  • Recycled 
  • Re-used within an organization

How can I be sure that Information is Safe When a Hard Drive is Recycled?

The only way to be sure is to use a recycling company like TechReset that use certified data destruction policies and other security measures to ensure that the data is safely and securely destroyed, eliminating the risks of data leaks. 

Is it Illegal to Throw Away my Old Hard Drive?

Throwing away your old hard drive in the garbage is breaking the law in some Provinces, as it can cause pollution with toxic materials as it degrades in a landfill. These toxins can end up in rivers and oceans, harming humans, wildlife, crops, and the environment.

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Hard Drive Recycling Process

There are several different options for hard drive recycling. Which you choose depends on factors like:

  • How concerned are you about data security?
  • Do you want to earn some income from recycling?
  • Can you afford the specialist tools?
  • Do you have the time and the skills?

The available options include:

  • Using a specialist recycler 
  • Using local IT support
  • Doing it yourself
  • Send the drive back to the manufacturer

1. Using a Specialist Recycler

Even if you want to attempt hard disk recycling yourself, using a specialist recycler like TechReset might be the best option for you. They have the knowledge, skills, tools, and experience to recycle old hard drives safely, securely, and economically. 

This is the best option if you want to recycle old hard drives for cash along with the computers that contain them, especially when you have several after a technology upgrade. Your old IT hardware still has residual value, and you may be surprised to find out how much it’s worth. 

It’s a good idea to check that the recycler’s services meet or exceed all relevant industry regulations and standards and that they provide erasure reports certifying that the data has been destroyed using IT asset disposition (ITAD) best practices.

2. Using Local IT Support

Your local IT retailer might be able to recycle your hard drives for you, using software to wipe the data. This option is best suited to recycling a hard drive on a single computer to get it ready for sale or donation. 

When using local IT support, it’s important to check that the software they use for the data wiping meets recognized standards for data erasure.

Because complete wiping of high-capacity disks can take a long time, some providers might use faster-wiping approaches that leave data exposed. The alarm bells should start ringing if a local support company say they can recycle hard drives while you wait!

It’s unlikely that your Local IT support is will have the capability to destroy the drives so the raw materials can be recycled. For that, you need a specialist recycler like TechReset.

3. Doing it Yourself

This section is for people who want to know how to recycle old hard drives, but be warned that the return is rarely worth the investment in time and tools! 

If you want to do hard drive recycling yourself, then follow each step.

  • Wipe the hard drive

    Start by removing any personal data and information using computer wiping software. Many applications are available, but choose one from a reputable company as some freeware applications come complete with viruses! The options include:

      • Cyberscrub
      • Killdisk
      • Erace

    If you don’t want to use the hard drive again, then follow the next series of steps.

  • Removing the Hard Drive

    Before you can destroy the hard drive, you need to remove it from the computer. This can be quite a challenge. Search the internet for how to do this for the type and make of your computer.

  • Unfasten the Casing from the Hard Drive

    With the label facing up, take out the six visible screws using an 8×60 Torx screwdriver. The label will hide at least one screw.

    Now turn the drive over, remove the second set of screws, and cut around the seal using a utility knife.

  • Remove the Cover

    Carefully pry open the drive cover and remove any more visible screws.

  • Disassemble the Drive Mechanism

    Using a small flat blade screwdriver, remove the first magnet and the read/write arm. Then remove the second magnet.

  • Remove the Data Disk

    Take off the round plate that retains the data disk using a 7×60 Torx screwdriver. Pull out the retaining ring and data disk.

  • Complete the Disassembly

    Using an 8×60 Torx screwdriver, remove the drive’s motor and the two remaining magnets.

  • Destroy the Data Disk

    To destroy the data, you can:

    • Drill holes into it
    • Hammer it into small pieces
    • Magnetize it using a powerful magnet
  • Recycle the Aluminum

    The average hard drive produces one-half pound of recyclable aluminum, which can be taken to an aluminum recycling centre.

4. Send the drive back to the manufacturer

Some computer manufacturers offer a hard disk recycling service. Options include:

  • Providing a free shipping label
  • Returning the wiped drive to you
  • Free recycling of unwanted drives

Once you’ve removed the hard drive, securely package it up using bubble wrap and mail it to the manufacturer.

Secure Hard drive recycling: Data destruction

At TechReset, we provide a range of different secure hard drive recycling services that can be tailored to meet your requirements:

All data is wiped from the media using software that meets or exceeds the US Department of Defense DOD 5220.22-M and US NIST 800-88 standards.

This fast and economic hard disk recycling approach crushes the drive surface, making the data unreadable.

This process disintegrates the media, providing complete physical destruction of the device.

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