I know that SE uses hard drives for it's storage, and I also know that they do an upgrade review often (2 years I think).

When they do decide to change the hard drives, how are they destroyed / dealt with? What "grade" of destruction is used?

Inspired by the Ask Ubuntu hot network question How to wipe a hard disk completely so that no data recovery tools can retrieve anything?.

I'm expecting an answer between these two options:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=512 


Source, CNET

  • 2
    BLOW EM UP!!!!!
    – nicael
    Jul 3, 2015 at 18:42
  • 5
    Impaled on a Unicorn horn? Jul 3, 2015 at 19:08
  • 3
    Do yourself a favor and read about the topic from experts rather than people who give thoroughly obsolete advice like “overwrite with multiple passes of random data”. Jul 3, 2015 at 19:16
  • I hope that the drives are encrypted, so that a simple overwrite is enough.
    – ott--
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:02
  • @Tim No, it wouldn't. At most, it might require slightly faster processors. Encryption is way faster than storage. Jul 3, 2015 at 20:05
  • @Tim You wrote “I'm expecting an answer between [overwriting with multiple passes of random] and [physical destruction]”. Overwriting with zeros would be just as good for hard disks. For SSD, which I believe SE uses for a lot of data, secure erase is the only way in software, since overwriting doesn't access reserve sectors. By the way, if you're worried about expensive recovery methods (>10k$), physical destruction is tricky, it's better to overwrite first. Jul 3, 2015 at 20:07
  • 8
    Why do we care? Isn't all our data already copied to the NSA Cloud Storage?
    – rene
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:12
  • 1
    Well, claim you have snowden documents on your drive: wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-08/20/…
    – Mnementh
    Jul 4, 2015 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Honestly, I don't think we've thrown out any hard drives that were used in production in the 4+ years I've been at the company.

The drives we do swap out tend to get repurposed to either lower tier machines, test/dev environments or given to tech staff to upgrade their work rigs.

And the ones that aren't dealt with this way are locked up in our colo. We are talking maybe 10 drives that haven't been repurposed.

Generally we don't swap drives for any reason other than needing more capacity. And it is generally a better idea to reuse the drives for other needs than to just toss them.

  • What about defective drives? Don't drives sometimes just die silently beyond repair? Jul 3, 2015 at 20:34
  • 2
    In a pile of bad drives that maybe one day I'll get around to throwing out. They do but for us its been beyond rare. We've had maybe two drives die this way on us.
    – Zypher
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:37
  • Wow that's really not a lot. Well, pile of two isn't that big... ;) Jul 3, 2015 at 20:38
  • 1
    Yep. Honestly my plan is to wait for a pile of replaced/dead drives to be big enough to make it with it to pay for a company to come in and destroy them in one fell swoop (yes this was an comment-answer. had to move to my laptop to fix it)
    – Zypher
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:41
  • I see.. wonder if it's worth adding to the answer then? Anyway, as for the mistake, you have an option to turn an answer to comment with one click, probably under mod menu - diamond power and all, you know. :-) Jul 3, 2015 at 20:44
  • @Sha why bother, more clicks there. Also, converting to comment deletes the answer too (so it is visible to 10kers), but doesn't nuke it completely.
    – nicael
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:48

If, some day, we do have to erase them ourselves, I'm a big fan of DBAN. At previous jobs I used it very effectively. It is also what I use at home.

  • I'm a BIG fan of DBAN and have used it on few of old servers HDD. Jul 5, 2015 at 3:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .