With SSD capacities increasing and prices going down, many of us have decided to replace our sluggish HDD drives. Or the 1TB HDD we had could not contain our files anymore, and we bought a much larger drive. In any case, we now have one or more old disks getting dusty in a cabinet. Here are some great projects we can make using an old hard drive, whether it's still functional or not.
Table of Contents
If our old hard drive is still functional
There is a chance that our hard drive still works, but we do not need it on our computer any longer, either because it has a small capacity or because we have replaced it with a faster SSD.
So, if we have a functional old hard drive, there is no reason why we should not make use of it.
Transforming the old hard drive into an external hard drive
The first thing we can do is convert the hard drive into an external drive, using an enclosure.
If we want to buy such a case, we can find one at a quite reasonable price; meanwhile, we could also use the enclosure of another external hard drive which is no longer functional.
Building a NAS
NAS (Network Access Storage) is a storage space, which we can access through a network.
On the market, there are stock NAS boxes where we merely place our hard drives, and we are good to go. Once we have done that, we can connect the NAS to our router and have access to our data from everywhere.
For the more “adventurous” users, you can create your own file server with Amahi or a similar service.
Broken old hard drive
Let’s move on, though, to something more interesting. What can we do with a non-functioning old hard drive?
For the DIY lovers, we will see a few ideas below with which we can have a great time making our original creations.
How to disassemble an old hard drive
If we are going to use the components of the drive for projects, first we need to pull it apart.
We will need:
Once we have gathered the necessary tools, we take our old hard drive…
…and unscrew the external screws. Those screws are usually Torx screws, that is, they look like a 6-ray star.
No, not this kind of star. More like this one.
In most drives, at least one screw is hidden under the label tag.
So, once we make sure that we have unscrewed all of them, we open the lid. You should know that from the moment we open the cover, the hard drive is officially useless. There is no going back.
Inside the case, we see all the components of the hard drive.
The head is held by two magnets, which will come in handy for our DIY projects.
The first magnet is on top of the head, so we need only pull it with force to detach it. If a screw holds it, we just remove it.
Since the two magnets will attract each other, we might need to use a screwdriver with a straight flat tip to push out the first magnet.
Then, we remove the head, and we proceed to the second magnet. Ours had an extra screw.
The two metallic components that we have removed do not consist entirely of magnets. The magnets are the central pieces which protrude, so we need to detach them. Unless, of course, we want to use them as they are.
To detach them, we need to use two pairs of pliers. Holding the metal from the edges with the pliers, we bend it inwards with force.
We did not have a second pair of pliers during our tests, so, we used one pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and a lot of patience.
After many tries, we finally managed to detach the magnets.
We carry on with the rotating disk platter, which is located in the center and resembles a small CD.
To remove it, we need to unscrew the screws which hold it in its place.
Then, we pick it up, and we have a very smooth and sleek mirror.
If your hard drive has a larger capacity than ours, then it will have more than one rotating disk platters.
Hacks with magnets
Hard drives’ neodymium magnets are powerful.
A strong magnet can be handy in many cases, the most obvious being the placement of a shopping list, a calendar, or any note on the fridge door.
For those who want to take it a step further, we can attach the magnets to the back side of a thin wooden piece (like a shelf), creating this way a magnetic holder for screwdrivers, knives, and all sorts of metallic objects.
Naturally, depending on what we want to place there, it is possible that we need more than two magnets. However, the general idea is the same.
Similarly, we can make dozens of magnet hacks and projects. There is nothing but lack of imagination to restrict us.
Ornaments and mirrors
As we have already mentioned, the rotating disks can be used as mirrors, since their surface is quite smooth.
Therefore, the simplest thing we can do with a disk is hanging it somewhere and use it as a small, ornamental mirror.
For an alternative type of ornament, we can make holes in the disks, tie them to fishing line, and create a hanging indoor or outdoor decoration.
As a bonus, it will scare off the pigeons, in case we do not have any additional CDs to hang for this cause.
Once again, our primary weapons are imagination and eagerness.
Secret hiding place
If we want to make use of every bit of our old hard drive, we can use its box as a “secret-hiding place-dash-safe.”
Are you wondering how?
We can use the box, the lid, a couple of the screws we unscrewed while dismantling it, and optionally a permanent marker for deception.
First, we place our savings inside the hard drive box.
Optionally, we can mislead the aspiring thieves with the indication “Broken” on the outside of the hard drive.
We screw the lid on one corner using one of the screws we had removed earlier.
We are careful not to tighten it too much so that the lid can rotate smoothly.
Then we seal the opposite corner with the second screw, and we are good to go.
Of course, we inform our roommates not to throw away the “broken” hard drive. We don’t want it to end up in the rubbish bin as a result of the standard Sunday house cleaning while we are sleeping.
If you have the tools and the time for a more specialized creation, then maybe you are interested in a DIY clock which has the parts of the hard drive as its base.
There are a lot of variations of this particular project, as well as many YouTube videos to guide you.
Depending on each our imagination, the result can be impressive.
Either broken or not, if we no longer need our old hard drives, we can sell them.
Many buyers look for particular hard drive models for spare parts. If you don’t know where to sell your hard drives, you can try eBay.
What do you do with your old hard drives?
As we saw, there are numerous uses for old HDDs. Have you perhaps found an alternative use for an old hard drive?
Let us know and show us your own hacks in the comments below.
- Disk Utility on Mac OS X: Resize and Create Partitions
- Predict if Hard Disk Failure is Imminent with CrystalDiskInfo
- How To Create Software RAID 5 in Windows 8.1 and 10
- Windows Won't Load? Two Ways to Rescue our Files
- Software RAID 1 in Windows 7 for Increased Data Security
Do you want to support PCsteps, so we can post high quality articles throughout the week?
If you prefer your purchases from China, we are affiliated with four of the largest international e-shops:eBay and AliExpress.