The Hidden Danger of Unsanitized Hard Drives

Many companies dispose of technology after it has outlived its usefulness. However, the information stored on these devices is still available for anyone who wants it. Opening a hard drive voids the manufacturer warranty and can cause data loss. Moreover, dust particles can wreak havoc in the gap between the precision-crafted disk platters and the redhead. This makes the platter non-readable, causing Data Corruption & a lower chance of Data Recovery.


It’s not physically possible for a virus to break a hard drive, despite the myths and legends. Viruses don’t attack hardware; they attack software drivers that allow hardware devices to interact with the computer. This can prevent a device from functioning properly, but it does not cause physical damage.

A virus can also corrupt system files, which are essential to functional programs. This type of corruption can provide unauthorized parties with critical information about how an application or system operates, such as the logs that are used for diagnostic purposes.

Viruses can cause a lot of damage, including stealing personal information, corrupting or deleting files, and slowing down a computer by engaging in disk thrashing (constantly reading and writing data to the hard drive, which wears it down). Keeping your antivirus software updated will help mitigate these threats. But if you want to be extra cautious, partitioning your hard drives into segments may help. This can make it harder for malware to spread from one segment to another.


If you’re experiencing frequent errors during normal operations or a system crash, it could be a sign that malware is taking over. A virus can cause a hard drive error by corrupting data or forcing the computer to access files that no longer exist.

Cybercriminals love to attack smart devices because they contain valuable information like credit card numbers, bank account passwords and more. In fact, in 2011 researcher Jay Radcliffe hacked into an insulin pump that was connected to the Internet and disabled it.

Malware is a term for malicious software that infects computers, systems, tablets, phones and mobile devices to steal personal information or take partial control of the device. This may be for financial gain, sabotage, political reasons or simply bragging rights. Malware can also encrypt, delete or corrupt files, change core computer functions and spy on your activities without your knowledge.

Proprietary Files

Hard drives use specialized technology to read and write digital information. However, these drives can be sensitive to mechanical damage. The disk platters are coated with thin magnetic layers that contain digital data and are extremely delicate. If a dust particle is introduced to these surfaces, the read/write heads will begin bumping over the dirty surface and cause irreparable damage to the drive.

Proprietary files on a link hard drive can be used by cybercriminals to weaponize software. These files include logs that give sophisticated parties access to critical data within an application or system.

Many of these files are backed up and can be restored from a recovery service, but this isn’t always possible. For this reason, it is important to back up your data regularly. Multiple copies stored in a variety of locations are the best way to protect against unforeseen data loss.

System Files

There are system files that the operating systems use to run and these files usually have a.SYS extension in Windows. If these files are changed accidentally or if the computer is attacked by malware, they can become corrupted and cause the operating system to malfunction or to crash completely.

Opening a hard disk in an uncontrolled environment exposes the platters that hold the digital information to airborne contaminants that can scratch and ruin the surface. Even a single dust particle can cause catastrophic results. The gap between the precisely crafted platters and the read/write heads that whiz across it to retrieve the data is so narrow that any mechanical contact could cause scratches and render the data unreadable.

Frequent errors during normal operation, sudden crashes or a growing number of bad sectors are signs that it’s time to replace the hard drive. Bad sectors are remapped by the operating system to a spare area on the disk, but they can also prevent the OS from booting at all.

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