I have a 2008 model iMac that just can't be turned on. When it died, it shorted the house's fuse with it. Is there any way that I can wipe out the hard drive (without much effort) before throwing it away?

Opening the case and removing the hard drive is not an attractive option. I've read an iFixit tear-down and the hard drive is located behind the screen, which requires me to have plenty of tools to remove it.

Note: there is a similar question with the exception is that my iMac has a Firewire port. I wonder if that makes a difference, since it won't power on in the first place.

Some movies show a magnet-like device to clear out hard drives. I wonder whether that's doable in real life?

  • 1
    You will have to take it out to be sure, there is no other way. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


I had a 2009 iMac where the power supply went bad. The glass screen is just held on with magnets. Just grab on the top edge and pull it off, disconnect wire harness. The hard drive is right behind it. Just disconnect hard drive and unbolt. Not much of any tools required, and easy to do. Then you can just recycle the rest of the unit if you don't want, and destroy hard drive by opening it and removing the disk platens (that look like silver CDs. Just lightly sand and scratch them up, and no one will ever read them. Throw them and the drive in the metal recycle.


Well, if you've totally written off the Mac, including the hard drive, why not just destroy it?

Hammer etc

I mean, literally destroy it such as taking a hammer to it in the back yard. Then you can just remove the hard drive and destroy that as well. You may want to lay down a sheet or something first, and be sure to wear safety glasses, but this will do the trick.

External enclosure

Another advantage of the 'hammer' approach is the option of destroying the outer shell and removing the hard drive and continuing to use it by inserting it inside an appropriate external enclosure.


If you're not keen on the above approach, another option is to fill a bath tub with enough hot water to submerge your iMac. Be sure to mix two (or more) cups of salt in it and place the iMac in it overnight. Then you can just throw it away the next day.


In terms of whether using a magnet in real life to scramble your data is doable, you would need a sufficiently strong magnet to achieve the result you want. Ideally you would have to get a hold of a Neodymium magnet, as this will have the strong magnetic fields necessary to erase or scramble the data.

  • 4
    Dont forget fire. Or if you have gun( in US) , maybe shoot it with gun. Upload it in youtube to generate views.
    – Rudy
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 7:13
  • +1 for the shoot it with gun comment. I nearly mentioned fire myself, but decided the fumes would not be very healthy or environmentally friendly. But I've literally known people who have successfully used the Bath method. Once that salt water gets in, it's toasted!
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 7:16
  • 1
    There's also, if the computer was troublesome or a burden, or you're simply frustrated, the technique from office space is rather effective. For reference (NSFW music lyrics): youtube.com/watch?v=N9wsjroVlu8
    – Hugo
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 18:26
  • 1
    @Rudy Make...several dollars! +1 for uploading your destruction to YouTube.
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 3:57
  • Hammer and gun takes more effort than taking out the hard drive (i.e need to get to an open field or need to clean up the debris, etc). I used a toilet plunger to take off the screen and apparently I already have T6 and T8 screwdrivers needed to get to the hard drive.
    – adib
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 5:06

You must log in to answer this question.

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