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3 Creative Upcycling Ideas For Your Old Hard Drive

Tina Sieber 27-08-2013

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 8 Creative Ideas To Recycle Your Mobile Phone Without Throwing It Out Recycle mobile phones. I wish that should be the catchphrase for all of us to live by. While researching this article, I came across quite a few official mobile industry websites of consumer rich countries... Read More 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 Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More 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 5 Good Reasons To Save Your Old Hard Drive From The Trash Most of us have our data spread across several devices, storage media, or services. Storage capacities continue to expand at affordable prices, digital devices diversify, and as a result we are increasingly moving data to... Read More . 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.

Wondering how you can salvage those magnets from your broken old hard drive How to Repair a Dead Hard Disk Drive to Recover Data If your hard disk drive has failed, this guide will help you with the hard disk drive's repair and data recovery. Read More ? 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 Disposing Of An Old Laptop - What To Recycle, What To Keep Laptops are a treasure trove of parts that can live more than one life. Whether they continue a life as spare part or become the subject of a DIY tech project, you can get a... Read More 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 Help the Environment: Places Where You Can Donate Old Computers Electronic waste, or e-waste as it is more commonly known, is a huge problem facing both the developed and undeveloped world. Many old computer parts contain materials that are hazardous to the environment and burying... Read More or giving your old phone to a good cause Recycle For A Cause: 5 Ways You Can Donate Your Old Cellphone & Help Make The World A Better Place We can help by donating our old cellphones (and other electronics), so that the recycling industry can reclaim some more percentage from the precious metals that gets mined. But that is not the only way... Read More .


When you are ready to buy a new desktop or laptop, make sure to check out Matt’s post on upgrading computers responsibly Is The Green Computer An Oxymoron? 4 Ways To Upgrade Responsibly Computing and environmentalism are difficult to reconcile. While computers theoretically allow for a paperless society and reduced use of physical goods, these potential benefits have yet to be widely embraced. As a result, computers seem... Read More . My energy saving tips Energy Saving Tips For Buying & Using Electronics Electronics make up a significant portion of your household energy costs. Computers, printers, and WiFi routers alone account for around 25% of your electricity bill. While electronics are becoming more efficient, their increased use offsets... Read More 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 Don't Throw It Out Just Yet: 6 DIY Upcycling Websites That Show How to Repurpose Waste I am sure if you saw the Great Pacific garbage patch, you would get an idea of the waste we throw out as a species. It is just one of the concentrations of plastic and... Read More — or what you considered to be waste before? You can turn an old computer into many cool objects What Can I Do With My Spare Computer? We all know the mantra of efficient product usage: Reduce; Reuse; Recycle. When it comes to computers though, changing technology and the need for tech-minded people to upgrade makes it hard to reduce consumption. This... Read More . Motherboards can be made into jewellery Recycle Old Computer Motherboards As Placemats, Jewellery, Notebook Covers & More How do you dispose of your old computer hardware? Some people take their old PCs to the local landfill; others wipe the devices and donate them to schools or relatives. I prefer to make as... Read More and solar panels from old garden lamps can be used to power radios Strip Down & Recycle Old Garden Solar Lamps For Tech Projects Costing just a few dollars each, garden solar lamps are a low-cost solution to night-time illumination – and they might just give you a useful piece of equipment for completing a tech project. Whether you’re... Read More . Upcycling works with almost anything. And if you cannot be bothered, you can still recycle or get cash for your old stuff Spring Cleaning 2013 Part Two: Kill Your E-Clutter With Four Simple Methods Discarded desktop computers account for a large percentage of illegally disposed of e-waste. This situation occurred because as the mobile age displaced that of the PC. Rather than pitching your things away illegally, those looking... Read More . 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


Related topics: Hard Drive, Recycling.

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  1. Scarlet Billows
    June 11, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Metal harddrive platters are excellent, and virtually indestructible, shaving mirrors useful when travelling.

  2. Henry Cooper
    September 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    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.

  3. Ross
    September 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    The first clock photo actually looks like a Chrome lgo.

  4. Nitish
    September 3, 2013 at 7:59 am

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

  5. Sat
    August 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    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.

  6. Bert
    August 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

    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
      August 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      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.

  7. marandaqyh
    August 28, 2013 at 3:40 am

    great contribute to sustainability

  8. Bryan M
    August 28, 2013 at 12:43 am

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

  9. TechnoAngina
    August 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

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

    • Tina Sieber
      August 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      I bet it could be. Great idea!

  10. Joshua J
    August 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    i will try it sometime

  11. Douglas M
    August 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    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
      August 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm

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