In accordance with Republican doctrine that the only possible protected intellectual property is the secret, or the trade secret... the small pile of used disks left by Pizarro required destruction. Not being the Republic of "hurr durr secure erase," destruction means physical! Lacking space to do a good barrel burn as well as the lack of a suitable barrel at the ready, alternatives needed to be brought into use to provide the irreplaceable certainty physical destruction offers.
Spinning rust drives open. SSDs still sorted by their former user.
The Western Digital SSDs opened readily to show their boards using common screw drivers. The Samsung SSDs with their pentablobe screws had no matching screwdriver bit in any of my sets. After jfw and myself checked a handful of stores the Samsungs were opened like sardine cans using pliers. The small pliers to hold the victim steady, the large pliers to twist and peel.
Guts all removed from their cases. The only torx bit in my collection small enough to get problematic internal screws in the spinning rest drive to let go on the way to extracting platters came from the "tamper resistant" screwdriver bits block.
At this point guts of drives are no longer sorted by client, because data recovery is an odds game. In the summer of 2004 when I did a stint as a shop hand in a data recovery shop, the bread and butter of the business was swapping drive heads after head crashes. Once a head crashes it scratches around on the platter with data loss and corruption being rather proportional to how long the drive had spun with the crashed head. The game was and probably still is to replace the failed component with a servicable one in order to maximize the data recovered from the drive.
For every other type of hardware failure affecting the platters, the price of recovering the data and the sophistication of methods necessary for undertaking a recovery went up.
After discovering the platters were aluminum disks that dented rather than glass disks that shattered, fucking up the magnetic oxide layer with acid and heat was determined prudent. After the platters had been hit with some coarse sandpaper already on hand.
Coca Cola black was added to the acid agent pool as the mix was kept at a boil until the butane canister in the stove was spent. The etching mix was drained and the platters appeared to have developed a bit of a faint bluish tint barely visible to my naked eyes. The platters were then placed back on the stove in straight cola black for another 190 grams of butane. After the second round my eyes have not yet again seen the bluish cast I am reasonably certain I saw between boilings.
The hammer and the anvil candidates on hand all proved insufficient for the SSDs. Thusly the pliers were enlisted to help. The Samsing board had substantial flex before crumbling and allowing acces to the stacks of incredibly thin, vertically stacked NAND wafers. The wafers readily broke into flakes between the jaws of the pliers. The Western Digitals had numerous SANDISK chips mounted on boards that didn't want to break. These NAND chips were loosened through flexing the boards to break solder joints, plucking them off the boards, and then breaking them between the pliers. Every wafer on every board got at least a cracking.
This is what NAND, bits of PCB, and some potting soil that spilled during destruction time look like after they have been soaking in a conductive brine for enough time to allow the water to completely evaporate. This is a thick crust of salt.
Let us turn to the Rockchip thumb drives and their construction. The new model drives released their NAND largely in tact. After a small cut and loosening of the shell the NAND assembly came out with the plastic clip holding the whole thing together. The old model drives in what turned out to be the easiest path for their disassemly were simply broken up without regard for extacting the NAND assembly intact. The NAND assembly on all of these Samsung thumbdrives appeared to be the same. These wafers all broke in a way that favored the production of small, sharp, black sandy grains...
To be continued
Still more breaking, and just maybe an answer to "where does the debris go?" At this point in the journey I'm confident that the magnetic layer of the hard driver platters is well fucked though the fact they are still recognizably hard drive platters disappoints a bit. As far as the NAND and other chips from boards go, the debris certainly could be rendered sandier. Stay tuned for the next installment of breaking things in a temperate climate afflicted by jungle like supply lines.