We have previously talked about how you can recycle your old hard drive. recycling for old hard drive. recycling for old hard drive. You want but how exactly do you parse them? And what do you do with the most valuable part — magnets?

If you want to be absolutely sure that your data has been erased before you try to do so, be sure to check out our methods for permanent deletion.

All mechanical hard drives contain rare earth neodymium magnets. They can be expensive to acquire, but do you know how easy it is to build hard drives for these precious materials? Let’s jump right in.

What you need

You only need a few basic tools to get started. To disassemble hard drives you will need:

  • Flat Head Screwdriver: useful to open the lid and detach fittings (see below).
  • Precision or Torx screwdriver set: it is necessary to detach the case and magnetic screws.
  • Vice or pliers: you need to remove the magnets from the substrate.

You may already have many of these tools. The only truly special tool you need is a set of precision screwdrivers. This is necessary to remove the special star-shaped screws. These are security screws designed to prevent people like you and me from interfering. Obviously they don’t work very well as a security measure, as you can purchase the necessary screwdrivers from Amazon or your local hardware store.


Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started. First determine the front and back of your hard drives. The front usually contains a label or sticker:

HDD front

Whereas the back will often contain some kind of circuit board:

HDD Back

This isn’t always the case as it can vary depending on the drive model, but they will usually stick to a similar format.

Start by removing the screws holding the top of the case (you’ll need Torx screwdrivers here). You may need to fiddle around with this a bit, in my case there are six screws visible and one final screw hidden under the warranty sticker. This is a fairly common trick, so be sure to check for any stuck items especially under any warranty stickers.

HDD Warranty

Once all the screws have been removed, it should be easy to remove the top case. You may need a flathead screwdriver to remove the cover if it is indeed stuck (don’t forget to check for hidden screws).

In some cases, you may need to remove more parts if the case still won’t break. Here is the removed board, just unscrew it:

Diagram of hard drive magnets

As a last resort, try removing any screws you can find. This should not be necessary for most drives. Once the top is off, here’s what the guts look like:

HDD inside

Notice the different parts. The round part at the bottom is called plate is where your data is (or was) stored. This little handle is called driven and acts like a tonearm on a turntable (why should you collect vinyl?). It moves back and forth to access data about different areas of the disk.

The precious magnets you want surround this drive, one on top and one on the bottom. The first one should lift up with no problems, although you may need to use a flathead screwdriver to remove it as it will magnetically stick to other components.

HDD magnet removed

Now remove the drive lever. This will often depend on one central flat head screw, so remove that as well. It may have a small cable connecting it to a circuit in another part of the drive, but you should be able to «stack» it out of the way with relatively little trouble.

HDD Magnet Extract

After removing the drive arm, you should see a second magnet. This can be held on with one or two Torx screws which need to be removed.

HDD Magnet Extract

Removing the base plate

A final disassembly step is needed to remove the magnets from the base plate. This can be tricky, as not only are they held onto a magnetic field (and are very strong magnets), but they also usually stick.

HDD magnets on substrates

The easiest way to separate them is to use a vise and a vise, but don’t worry if you don’t have a vise, it can still be made without one. Clamp the base plate with two pairs of vise or pliers. Gently bend it so that the magnet is slightly released. Be careful! You don’t want pieces of metal in your eyes if they break, so wear safety goggles!

HDD Magnet Extract

By bending enough, it is easy to remove the magnets.

get out

Magnets are often glued onto the drive. This will leave marks on the surface of the magnets or possibly remove their nickel plating. Carefully cover the magnet with tape so that the metal fragments do not get anywhere.

HDD Exposed Magnet

This is it! You can use these magnets for any task and they are much cheaper than going to the stores. I used mine to store documents on racks:

Used magnet HDD

Now that you know how to extract rare earth magnets from hard drives, maybe you could combine them with a microwave transformer (how to take apart a microwave safely) for the ultimate science project madness! However, don’t go crazy, as you can cause serious damage if the magnets are large enough (Do I need to protect my computer from magnets? Protect my computer from magnets?). Alternatively, why not make a magnetic cable organizer. or mask the usb drive and use a magnet to keep it in a secret place?

Will you dismantle your old hard drives? What will you do with your magnets? Do you have any magnetic tricks? Let us know in the comments below!

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