3 Creative Upcycling Ideas For Your Old Hard Drive

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Care to get the most out of your old hard drive? Even if the drive is dead, there may be one more creative use left in it before submitting its remains for recycling. It is called upcycling!

When you’ve re-used your old hardware in every conceivable way, it’s usually time for it to leave its current form of existence and break it apart to create something new. The extraction and production of metals and plastics is a laborious and resource-intensive process. Recycling feeds precious materials back into production, which saves energy and conserves natural resources.

Upcycling is a way to re-use these (future) scrap materials one last time, to create an object that otherwise might have been produced from raw materials. When you upcycle your own electronic waste, you also conserve your financial resources. Being creative pays off in many ways. So let’s look at what treasures are hidden within an old hard drive.

Salvage Strong Hard Drive Magnets

In a recent article, I explored reasons to save an old hard drive from the trash. Two commenters noted that hard drives contain strong Neodymium magnets that can be removed and re-used. Dwight had a particularly cool recommendation, which I would like to share unedited:

Some motorcycles, sub compact cars, and bicycles have trouble tripping traffic lights. Attach magnets like those underneath them to fix the problem. There is a pit under each lane at traffic lights in the USA. In this pit is a wire loop that creates a magnetic field. When your vehicle breaks that field the light is tripped. Smaller vehicles don’t generate enough magnetism from their tires or engines to trip the lights.

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Wondering how you can salvage those magnets from your broken old hard drive? Instructables offers several cool guides:

Hard Drive Magnets

Make Use Of The Hard Drive Platter

In that same article of mine mentioned above, other commenters brought up the hard drive platter. Apparently, it is an unbreakable mirror and can be used as a heliograph. And if you have several, you can turn them into windchimes. And that’s not all.

Instructables features several projects that make the platter the face of a clock:

Hard Drive Platter Clock

Turn The Empty Case Into A Storage Container

Now that you have salvaged the hard drive’s internal components, give the empty case a new use. You can turn it into a place for storing valuables. It’s not really safe, but it’s unsuspicious — no one would think of looking for stuff in a hard drive.

Here are some cool projects from Instructables:

Hard Drive Safe

More Tips For Reusing Electronics & Conserving Resources

Do you have more old electronics lying around at home? Before you get rid of them, make sure you retrieve valuable parts and recycle the rest. I previously wrote about laptop parts to keep before disposing of it.

A device that is no longer useful for you may be invaluable for someone else, provided it’s still working. Consider donating your old computer or giving your old phone to a good cause.

When you are ready to buy a new desktop or laptop, make sure to check out Matt’s post on upgrading computers responsibly. My energy saving tips can help you choose an efficient device and there is some good advice for lowering the energy usage of your old electronics.

Upcycling Is Fun!

Did you get hooked on repurposing your waste — or what you considered to be waste before? You can turn an old computer into many cool objects. Motherboards can be made into jewellery and solar panels from old garden lamps can be used to power radios. Upcycling works with almost anything. And if you cannot be bothered, you can still recycle or get cash for your old stuff. Whatever you do, keep it away from the trash can! The materials are too precious to be wasted in a landfill or incinerator.

What is your coolest upcycling project and what gave you the idea?

Image Credits: Hard Drive Via Flickr

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13 Comments - Write a Comment


Douglas M

These are really good ideas. The easiest for me will be to turn an empty HDD case into a storage container. Will try it right away! Thanks Tina!

Tina Sieber

Most welcome, Douglas! And what are you going to store in the container? :)


Joshua J

i will try it sometime



You know, I wonder if an empty HDD container would make a good Raspberry pi container. Interesting suggestions.

Tina Sieber

I bet it could be. Great idea!


Bryan M

A desk clock seems pretty cool. I think the next time I kill a HDD I will give this a try.



great contribute to sustainability



Just make sure you actually LOOK at a clock before you make one. Seems the guy who made the one in the main picture forgot about 3 o’clock completely. DOH!

Tina Sieber

Yeah, the click in the featured image on top of the article is kinda messed up. That was put in by our graphic wiz. The picture of the clock down in the article is perfectly fine, though.



you can save those logic boards at the back(bottom) of hdd, which you can use to replace those bad(undetectable) hdds. I’ve done this and made couple of undetectable hdds to work again.

Note: If you replace a logic board from a bad(undetectable) hdd of 500GB with a working logic board of 160GB hdd, the end result is that you get only 160GB hdd, the working logic board doesn’t see the remaining space of the non-working hdd.



I would like to try the Platter Clock, it looks kewl…



The first clock photo actually looks like a Chrome lgo.


Henry Cooper

Your suggestion that no-one would look inside a hard drive is true, but I’m pretty sure thieves would just grab the hard drive anyway, taking your stuff by accident.

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