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Magnetic floppy disk eraser

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Ben Weaver, Nov 3, 2003.

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  1. Ben Weaver

    Ben Weaver Guest

    Hi all...

    A bit off topic, this one. But hopefully someone will be able to help.

    Problem is this: I have a very big box of second-hand floppy disks.
    They're 3.5", mixed format and mixed density (720k/1.44Mb).

    I'd like to erase all of them, or at least completely screw up what data
    is on them. There's too many to format all of them individually, so I
    need a bulk eraser.

    Now I understand that bulk erasers are very costly. I'm on a budget of
    almost zero. (I'm doing this for a non-profit computer recycling
    organisation that I run.)

    Has anyone ever constructed a home-made device for this kind of task?
    I'm thinking of something like the degaussing coil out of a
    telly/monitor, or a hard disk fixed magnet on a little motor or something...



    Ben Weaver
  2. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    Ben, this is somewhat illogical since if you do bulk erase the disks, you
    have to reformat them anyway. That having been said, I have had some disks
    that needed to be bulk erased before they would work properly. I have never
    met a bulk eraser that could be left on for an extended period of time, most
    have a self resetting thermal interrupter to shut them down when they get
  3. JeffM

    JeffM Guest of second-hand floppy disks
    Lord Garth

    I'm with Garth on this one.

    That being said,
    an old filament transformer which has 1 easily-removable side (core)
    is the cheap way, but as Garth also said:
    (watch the heat).
  4. Nick Hull

    Nick Hull Guest

    If you just want to screw up the data (for privacy, etc) you could
    probably do that by passing a powerful rare earth magnet over them
    individually. The magnet would have to be powerful & close but RE
    should work try it and see.
  5. Steve

    Steve Guest

    ....but at least the data can't be retrieved by the next person to use
    the disk!

    Also, rather than formatting every single disk solely to remove the
    data, you can format the disks as you require them!

    I had just this kind of problem last week. Luckily I work in a TV
    studio and had access to a VCR tape bulk eraser. It did the job
    nicely! Although, the disks are light enough to get stuck in the
    machine due to the magnetisim! Just line them up so that the next
    disk pushes the stuck one out the other side.

    Perhaps you have a TV studio or video editing facility nearby?

  6. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    Never do a 'quick format'...then there is no problem.
  7. I thought the question was because they would be giving away, or selling,
    the resulting blank disks. They don't want the present contents remaining,
    so they want a simpler way of erasing it all. It may take the same total time
    to reformat the disks later, but if they are done piecemeal it's not
    nearly as noticeably significant a task as having one guy sitting there
    reformattting hundreds of disks at one time.

    For that matter, even if they are just using the disks within the
    organization, they still may want to clear out old data before putting
    them into circulation. Who knows when someone might take a few floppies
    home for their own use? And again, realistic or not, it's perceived
    that using a bulk eraser will be faster than the whole reformatting process.

    One scheme I recall seeing was lining up a string of magnets in an
    alternating format on a piece of metal, and using that as a bulk floppy
    eraser. This was in a short lived computer magazine put out by the same
    people that did The Audio Amateur. I couldn't give a date, or any more
    specifics other than I think the magnets used were taken out of
    refrigerators; the doors all have that flexible magnet under the
    seal to hold it closed.

  8. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    At some point you must verify the integrity of the media.
    (You wouldn't sell people junk would you?)

    Since the disks must be fornatted to be used,
    combine the 2 steps and sell them as "Formatted".

    Saves youn grief on returns / bad reputation
    and makes you look like an "added-touch" outfit.

    If they're used in-house,
    avoid having skilled staff analyzing bone-head problems (bad disks).
    Put an unskilled somebody on a bank of computers during down-time
    and have him batch-format the lot and destroy any failures.
  9. Call a local radio station and explain what you are doing, and ask if
    you can stop by with a box and erase them on their bulk eraser. You
    might luck out and find they have an extra, older unit they would
  10. Ben Weaver

    Ben Weaver Guest

    Hello all.

    Thanks for the great response!

    Everyone is quite correct. Once they've been bulk erased, they'll need
    formatting. This is okay, because I plan to give them away to people who
    visit my recycling project workshop. As there's only me running it,
    there's no chance of me sitting down to format each individual one. But
    if someone picks up a handful of disks and takes them away, then it
    won't be too hard for them to sit down and reformat say ten of them. And
    if one or two are dud, then there's no worry because they were free
    anyway. It would be nice to act as an "added-touch" outfit and ensure
    that each one is formatted and working, but really my primary aim is to
    just catch useful stuff that's heading towards the bin and find uses for it.

    There seem to be several excellent suggestions for erasers, so I'll play
    about a bit and see how I get on.

    Ta once again.

  11. Steve

    Steve Guest

    this is somewhat illogical since if you do bulk erase the disks, you
    The OP said;
    "There's too many to format all of them individually..."

    Passing 200 floppies (for example) through a bulk eraser will take
    about 5 minutes.

    Doing a full format on 200 floppies will take HOURS!!

    The OP won't be using the disks, he plans to give them away in small
    bunches to his clients.
  12. Ardent

    Ardent Guest

    X-No-Archive: yes

    Just wipe with a magnet from an old hard disk and that will cook the
    data for good!

  13. Try poring a coke or pepsi on them. The acid will eat the bytes away.
    And the sugar will gum up the works. Of course this will destroy them.
  14. Tim Kettring

    Tim Kettring Guest

    Or use the magnet from a high-watt speaker.

  15. Gordon Youd

    Gordon Youd Guest

    My dog can do 1000 in 5 minutes.

    (Tongue in cheek)

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