We destroyed a hard drive with an industrial-strength magnet

After recently testing a selection of everyday magnets against mechanical hard drives, we found the hardware easily withstood the onslaught.

Many readers were unsatisfied, however, and urged us to test more powerful magnets.

We agreed, and purchased two industrial-strength magnets from RS Components.

The theory behind magnets affecting hard drives is based on the fact that mechanical disks have moving parts and store data using magnetic fields.

Based on this, a strong magnet should be able to affect the hardware – possibly erasing its data.

The test

Like the previous test, we tested the magnets in increasing order of magnetic power against a flash drive, external hard drive, and laptop.

We used a Lenovo notebook for the laptop test, which was left running while the magnet was placed against its casing.

The magnets used in the test were:

  • 50mm Eclipse Neodymium Block Magnet (N821)
  • 10mm Eclipse Neodymium Block Magnet (N819)

The 50mm and 10mm magnets are graded as N35 and have a pull force of 40.1kg and 5.8kg, respectively.

Images of the 50mm and 10mm magnets are below.

50mm Magnet
50mm Neodymium Magnet
10mm magnet
10mm Neodymium Magnet

You will notice there is no image with magnets in the same frame – and there is a good reason for this.

The magnets are so strong that when we placed a 10mm magnet near the 50mm one, they rocketed together and the impact caused the 10mm magnet to explode. Luckily, we had a spare.

Laptop HDD

To start the test, we loaded the hard drive, flash stick, and laptop with data and checked that it was readable.

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

Neither of the magnets had any effect on the laptop’s performance or hard drive, although the 50mm unit caused the disk drive to open.

  • 10mm magnet – No data loss
  • 50mm magnet – No data loss

External HDD

The magnets were placed on the external hard drive and moved around, with the 10mm magnet causing no change.

After exposing the drive to direct and varied contact with the 50mm magnet, however, its data was unable to be read.

This could have been due to a disruption of the platter’s magnetic field, or a physical effect on the drive’s metal components.

  • 10mm magnet – No data loss
  • 50mm magnet – Drive unreadable

Flash Drive

Unsurprisingly, the USB flash drive remained immune to data loss.

However, the larger magnet was strong enough to bend its USB connector when brought into contact with the drive.

  • 10mm magnet – No data loss
  • 50mm magnet – No data loss
Magnet test subjects
The test devices

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We destroyed a hard drive with an industrial-strength magnet