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Degaussing an HDD

  1. Jul 13, 2014 #1
    Can a speck of dust degauss the surface of an HDD?

    Or perhaps water?

    If you grabbed an HDD with your hands, assuming you don't braise the surface, would THAT degauss it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Degaussing is done with a magnet so if your fingers were magnets then they could degauss the drive.

    The other more likely scenario is getting a speck of dust on the drive (normally they are hermetically sealed) platter which winds up scratching the disk as it spins.

    Another scenario is a head crash where the r/w head scratches the platter causing a loss of information.

    More info on HDD:


    Check out the topic on Integrity and Failure about two thirds into the document.
  4. Jul 13, 2014 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    If you have opened a HDD to expose the platters
    you can pretty much write the drive off. You will never be able to remove every speck of dust before resealing the drive
    And any one of the remaining specks is likely to cause the problems jedishrfu stated in his second sentence

    you don't even need dust particles, if you inadvertently touched the surface with your finger, just the grease deposit will be enough to ruin it

  5. Aug 7, 2014 #4
    And even if you can keep all dust out and not touch the platters with greasy fingers, how are you going to refill the hdd with helium? (Rhetorical question.)
  6. Aug 7, 2014 #5


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    There are data recovery companies that do open HDD's in order to repair them, reseal them, and recover data. I assume they have some type of clean room.
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