What Can You Do with a Dead Hard Drive?

Kinkajou suggests…

Make a wind chime with the platters. If there are at least 3 platters in the drive you could make a small wind chime. Just string them up, hang them on a small piece of wood or something and you could put it outside or you could hang it in the office. Hacked Gadgets also has a top 5 list of things to do with an old hard drive, one of their suggestions is a wind chime.

Make a belt buckle out of one of the platters. If a belt buckle isn’t for you, you could also possibly get a baseball cap and somehow attach the platter where a logo would go, but those platters are a bit heavier than fabric, but it’s always a suggestion.

You could then take the leftover case of the drive, and make a small storage box. Just gut the drive and put some hinges on it. You could put small treats for Wicket and Pixie or candy for you in it and keep the box in the desk.

You could harvest the magnets that are in the drive and put them on the fridge. High tech fridge magnet to hold the shopping list for the win.

You could also possibly find someone or a company that may inscribe your “Chris Logo” onto a platter and you could possibly install/mount it on your desk. And this leads into the next suggestion…

Take the platters and make a wall hanging. With one platter per hanging you could make something like platinum records. If you can scrounge up a second or third dead hard drive you could use all the platters to make a hard drive mirror. It’ll look geeky, and it’ll be a great conversation piece for visitors. Hey, Chris, what’s this and where did you get it? It’s a hard drive mirror. A little art project I did after the drive in my MacBook Pro’s hard drive died. Or you could just take the platters and use them to frame a picture of yourself, Ponzi, and the kids (Wicket/Pixie). The possibilities in this category are rather endless.

You could gut the case and turn it into portable flash hard drive… Okay, with the set up they show here, it would be four drives showing up when you plug it in, but still a neat little idea, and with the price of USB flash drives constantly going down you could put four 16 GB drives in there and basically have a 64 GB backup drive. You could also just turn the drive into a USB hub with a little slicing and ingenuity, you could have a fancy enclosure for a 4-port USB hub.

Another project, take the platters, get some kind sticky rubber feet for the bottom, maybe even wrap the platter with yarn or fabric, and make a coaster. You don’t want nasty rings to devlop on the desk, oh no.

And if you want to be less creative, and totally destructive, you could just take a hammer to the drive, but that’s not nearly as much fun, really it isn’t.

And finally, something to try if you want one last go at getting anything off the drive before you call it quits. It might work in Leopard…

And one last idea that came to me a few minutes ago, if you do go the destructive route, take the platters out, paint the platters with different colored semi-transparent paints, smash them up into little bits and then stick them down on some paper or canvas that you’ve applied some adhesive or glue to, frame it, then either hang it in the office or sell it on eBay for five thousand dollars. It kinda goes back to the wall art idea from earlier.

17 thoughts on “What Can You Do with a Dead Hard Drive?”

  1. Sounds neat. Need pictures to bring the visuals home. I have no idea what the platters look like….

  2. I need more hard drives to take apart, hopefully I can get about a dozen dead drives then I’ll have enough platters to make the mirror. So far from two old dead drives I got 4 platters and 3 magnets, and one case that I can use as a storage box. I need to take the motherboard out of my old PC, I’m going to use that as the backing for the mirror if I ever get to it.

  3. Hey all

    You could try and make a cool lamp out of it.
    With lot’s of pretty lights and neon 😀 like that google cube you showed a while ago. You could also built a radio or clock with it, or even a combo of all 3.

    Maybe you could somehow make it propell itself, or
    you could also remove the disk and head and put stuff ontop of it, then speed it and see what happends.

    If that fails I suggest you go up on your roof and slingshot it as far as you can ^^.

  4. If you have SpinRite, or a friend with a copy, try that before you hammer the drive! If you were able to access the drive to copy things off… it sounds EXACTLY the kind of thing that SpinRite would fix. I didn’t believe it either, but it worked for me on a “dead drive”. You may end up with an extra usable drive.

    I mean, I would have taken it in for replacement too, if it was under warranty. BUT! I would have asked to keep the disk as you did, and run spinrite as soon as I got home! LOL! New drive, and your get a old drive to use as well. “Cake, and Eat it TOO!”


    1. you’re an overzealous idiot. a dead drive isn’t always readable, no matter the software. not to mention the fact that most people’s dead drives will probably be chunky, old, ~9 or so GB with a SCSI interface. useless.

      1. He’s no on overzealous idiot, you’re a judgmental moron though. what he is saying is that you should give it a shot and see what you can save off of it.

        I’ve got two 750gb “dead” hard drives in front of me right now, one I think is actually completely dead and I will be using the magnets and platters for something, the other… I’m going to give spinrite a run and see what happens. if it doesn’t get fixed no big deal. if it does I have an extra hard drive to throw in my server now.

  5. The magnets come in handy for holding tools and small parts/screws in the shop, holding up documents/diagrams/etc. while I’m working on a piece of equipment.

    Those platters are great to put in your hiking backpack for emergency signaling mirrors. They’re very shiny and completely unbreakable.

  6. You didn’t mention where to get the especially small hex drivers or any other tools that you need to non destructively disassemble the drives and the platters, magnets and other goodies out. Perhaps that is a different topic. Definitely interesting topic for a how-to slide-show or video.

    Besides all these suggestions you did not mention my favorite use for old drives – even those that are not dead but merely in hibernation (I have to keep old data until contracts are fulfilled). They make excellent bookends!


  7. ok, this is old, but it really is a pathetic article, badly written by a person who obviously knows only the basics. for example, the four USB drives could easily be mounted in a spanned volume, meaning the OS sees them as a single file system. get your shit together.
    then again, this was so long ago, you may have gotten your shit together by now!

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