I tried to wipe my hard drive with a magnet – This is what happened

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I tried to wipe my hard drive with a magnet – This is what happened

You’ve heard it somewhere down the line: “Don’t put a magnet near your laptop, it will mess up the hard drive.”

This is thanks to the popular tech legend that household magnets can interfere with the data stored on a hard drive.

The theory is that if you place a magnet on a mechanical hard drive, it can wipe its data.

This is based on the premise that mechanical hard drives have ferromagnetic moving parts and store data using magnetic fields – which could be affected by magnets in the same way that floppy disks can.

SSDs are not influenced by magnets in this way, as they do not have any moving parts and do not rely on magnetic fields to store data.

In fact, CompactFlash executive director Bill Frank told PCWorld in 2004 that the power required to disturb the electrons in flash memory would be powerful enough to suck the iron out of your blood cells.

While hard drives are less resistant to magnetic interference, it does not mean they are easy to wipe using magnets.

K&J Magnetics tested this theory by placing a running hard drive between two extremely large neodymium ring magnets, with no adverse affects on the drive.

The test

Despite the near-certainty of a laptop hard drive remaining in optimal condition when influenced by a magnet, I refused to use my personal high-end laptop for the test.

Thankfully, an “older” notebook which serves as the office spare was up to the task.

For our tests, we used a standard fridge magnet, a collection of stronger, cube-shaped magnets, and a neodymium magnet taken from a 2.5-inch mechanical drive.

The magnets were then placed on a flash drive, a hard drive inside a laptop, and an external drive – this is what happened.

Internal HDD

We placed the magnets on the laptop chassis one at a time, moving them around and alternating between the front and back of the laptop.

No data was lost and no noticeable changes occured in the laptop’s functioning.

  • Fridge magnet – No data loss
  • Cube magnets – No data loss
  • HDD neodymium magnet – No data loss
  • External HDD

    The external drive was protected by a thin plastic chassis, and we tested the magnets one at a time while moving them around the drive’s exterior.

    When it was plugged back into a PC, the external drive showed no data loss.

  • Fridge magnet – No data loss
  • Cube magnets – No data loss
  • HDD neodymium magnet – No data loss
  • Flash drive

    Despite all the evidence, we tested a flash drive – just to be certain.

    Unsurprisingly, the flash drive did not flinch and no data was lost.

  • Fridge magnet – No data loss
  • Cube magnets – No data loss
  • HDD neodymium magnet – No data loss
  • Now read: The best-value desktop CPUs you can buy right now

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