7 DIY Projects for Your Old Hard Drive

Mihir Patkar Updated 26-11-2019

Don’t throw out that old hard drive from your computer! Yes, that’s even if you’ve got a fancy new solid state drive (SSD) or if your hard disk drive (HDD) finally gave up. Whether it’s functional or not, your old drive still has some cool uses.


What you do with it depends on whether the hard drive is working or dead. But surprisingly, a functional old HDD has fewer uses than a dead one.

So roll up your sleeves and check out some of these DIY projects to recycle, reuse, or repurpose an old hard drive.

Projects For Working Hard Drives

If the drive is still working, don’t waste that space. It is still valuable storage for your data. The thing is, you don’t need to use it inside a computer any more.

1. Turn It Into a Portable Drive

Hard drive enclosure

Once you upgrade your laptop’s drive or run out of space on your PC, you have a functional HDD in your hands. Put it to use again by popping it into an external hard drive enclosure: you’ll have a DIY external hard drive.


Depending on the drive and the enclosure, you’ll be able to use it with or without a power adapter. As a rule of thumb, power adapters are helpful for desktop (3.5-inch) hard drives, while adapters aren’t usually needed for laptop (2.5-inch) drives.

You will find plenty of enclosures and cases on Amazon, including the simple AmazonBasics hard drive enclosure. You might even want to look at a docking station for multiple hard drives.

AmazonBasics 3.5-inches SATA HDD Hard Drive Enclosure - USB 3.0 AmazonBasics 3.5-inches SATA HDD Hard Drive Enclosure - USB 3.0 Buy Now On Amazon $22.55

2. Build a NAS Box With an Old Hard Drive

hard drive nas diy


In case you already have an external drive or don’t have use for one, it might be time to build your own network attached storage (NAS). Basically, your hard drive’s contents will be accessible from any device connected to your Wi-Fi.

There are different levels of NAS. If you’re fine with spending some money, you can buy a NAS box like the TerraMaster F2-220 and simply pop in the drive.

TerraMaster F2-220 2bay NAS 2.4GHz Intel Dual Core CPU 4K Transcoding Media Server Network Storage (Diskless) TerraMaster F2-220 2bay NAS 2.4GHz Intel Dual Core CPU 4K Transcoding Media Server Network Storage (Diskless) Buy Now On Amazon

How to Reuse Dead Hard Drives

If the hard drive doesn’t work any more, data storage is out. But you can still recover data off a dead drive, and the drive’s physical parts are still valuable. For any of the projects below, you will need to open it up and strip its parts, which is a pretty easy process.


The above video has all the steps you need to disassemble the drive and use its parts.

3. DIY Magnetic Knife Block

hard drive diy knife block

Hard disk drives contain large neodymium magnets. We have a full guide to remove HDD magnets safely How to Take Apart a Hard Drive and What to Do With the Magnets All mechanical hard drives contain rare earth neodymium magnets. These can be expensive to buy, but old hard drives can easily be harvested for these precious materials? Read More . Each drive will net you two strong magnets.

Instructables user tzhy shows how to use two planks to create such a magnetic knife block. You won’t need any special tools for this, but if you don’t have wood glue or other simple hardware tools around, your local hardware shop should have it.


Once you’re done, you’ll get a neat magnetic knife block that you can hang above your kitchen. Knives will stick to this block like magic, making it super convenient.

4. Cubicle Rear View Mirror (or Other Mirrors)

hard drives cubicle mirror
Image Credit: Michael Hiemstra/Flickr

The platters inside a hard disk drive can act as perfectly polished mirrors. Be a little gentle while dismantling them, you don’t want chips or scratches here. But if you get it out whole, it’s the perfect mirror.

You can get creative in your cubicle by turning this into a rear view mirror. All you need is a large thumb tack. Mount it on your cubicle, place the thumb tack in the center, and you will always see who is trying to sneak up on you from behind.

Use old hard drive platters as a pocket mirror

Platters can also turn into signal mirrors (i.e. a mirror that reflects sunlight to show your location). Apart from being handy in survival scenarios, it can also be a decent safety tool for bicyclists.

In case a simple mirror is all you want, then platters can double up as pocket mirrors too. It’s a nice arts and crafts project.

5. Turn Platters Into a Geeky Wind Chime

If you have several old drives, harvest the platters and turn them into a wind chime. It’s an easy DIY project that puts your geek cred out there for the world to see.

Most of the project uses the parts you dismantle from a drive, like the base plate and the mount ring. You’ll need a strong line to hold all the plates, of course. Run the lines through the ring and into the corners of the plate. Attach a platter to the end of each line.

There you go, your personal geeky wind chime. It’s one of the most creative upcycling ideas for drives 3 Creative Upcycling Ideas For Your Old Hard Drive 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... Read More .

6. Make a Hidden Safe With a Hard Drive Case

hard drive safe

Once you remove all the parts inside, what do you do with the hard drive case itself? Instructables user bobert610 says it makes a cool safe to store your stash where no one will suspect it.

It’s also the easiest safe to construct. Take out all the parts, then insert one of the screws in the corner. Your “hard drive safe” will act as a swiveling case to stash your emergency money.

7. Fancy Hard Drive Clock

Timelike 3D Clock Hands, DIY Large Clock Hands Needles Wall Clocks 3D Home Art Decor Quartz Clock Mechanism Accessories (Silver) Timelike 3D Clock Hands, DIY Large Clock Hands Needles Wall Clocks 3D Home Art Decor Quartz Clock Mechanism Accessories (Silver) Buy Now On Amazon $13.99

An old hard drive’s parts are perfect to build yourself a brand new clock, complete with LEDs and other cool bits. You’ll need to buy clock movement and hands separately.

DIY guru kipkay, host of one of the best tech channels on YouTube, has a wonderful video guide for this project. Kipkay’s method is more refined and the end product looks fantastic:

That said, he uses several parts that DIY beginners might not have, or would need to go to their local hacker-space for. Here’s a simpler version for a vertical desk clock, which looks mighty cool when you add the keyboard keys.

For Working or Broken Hard Drives

hard drive open

Whether it’s functional or not, if you don’t have any use for the drive, sell it. Heck, even if you stripped the parts of a dead drive and used some, you can sell the rest.

You will find buyers for everything at BoardSort, a forum for electronic scrap. And as always, you can sell broken things on eBay for cash.

In case you’re selling a functional disk, make sure you completely and securely erase your hard drive How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive There are two ways to wire a hard drive. Here's what you need to know to get it done quick and easy. Read More —just formatting it isn’t enough. You don’t want any confidential data falling into the hands of the wrong people.

Related topics: DIY Project Ideas, Hard Drive, Recycling.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mike
    October 13, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    My oldest hard drive (not working) is a 10 MB drive on a 1984 model Kaypro 10.

  2. Robert
    October 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I have a 10MB (yes, megabyte) hard drive on my desk. From an IBM AT.

  3. Brian W
    July 11, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Be careful with 2.5" drives, sometimes the platters are made from glass and they will shatter. I discovered this by trying to bend one.

  4. Kym
    June 21, 2018 at 1:23 am

    think I still have a couple of HDDs ... both the size of a brick. 5mb and 10mb from memory. I have been workinig with IT way too long!

  5. Roy miller
    March 11, 2018 at 7:30 am


  6. Inkygeek
    February 20, 2018 at 1:53 am

    I have a Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 120 Gbytes

  7. J. Nichols
    January 30, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I have an old IBM 10 MB hard disk that is about 6x4x3 in. It's a beast that weighs in at about 5 lbs.

  8. Ryan
    January 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I have a 7.5gb quantum fireball. Didn't know what it was at the time of receiving the gift.

  9. -frank
    December 2, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    20 MB from 1988(?) for the Atari ST. Cost was about 2000 Deutschmarks ... still working

  10. Necro
    December 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    My oldest drive, that is still functional and running is a 256 mb bigfoot.

  11. Ryan Campbell
    December 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    The oldest hard drive I have is from my 1991 Packers Bell...50MB. Still works too!

  12. Himanshu Raj Sahu
    December 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    My hard dusk stopped working, not dead and I in trying to fix it killed it. I took it to the mechanic and he declare it dead. It's just 7yrs old had capacity of 500gb by Seagate. Can I sell it. What can be the price. I haven't unscrewed it.

  13. CaviarDreams
    November 8, 2017 at 4:07 am

    I actually have an old Caviar 21600 by WD that was still in the plastic until a few weeks ago. It is dated May of 1997 . 3148 cal . 16 heads . 63 set . 1624.6 MB or 1.62 GB Drive in 2017 lingo. It works just fine lol!

  14. Brian
    July 25, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I have a 2.5 HDD 1.4 Mb same size as the old small floppy discs. still works.

  15. BT
    June 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    My oldest hard drive is a whopping 10 meg, I bought it to go with my original 128k Mac in 1984 it was a serial attached shared drive that multiple Macs could attach to. It makes a nice heavy door stop in the garage.

  16. Madmarsu
    May 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Still perfectly working, I got a 32 Mb disk (a 3.5 inches one).
    I mounted it on a TRS 80, despite of the technical manual who says it wasn't possible. They were wrong, it works perfectly.
    I was quite fed up of compiling C programs on my two-floppy drives...
    It costed me a thousand of FRF at that time (1988); strangely, the price never came lower (but the capacity grew following Moore's law) on hard disks.
    Nowadays it would be the equivalent of some hundreds of bucks.
    Iomega Zip disks were a good alternative some years later! Especially for backups.

    P.S. My disk was supposed to be a 20MB drive, in MFM. Using RLL it came to 32MB. And using DoubleSpace it stores more that 80MB (my Pascal and C sources are on it, compressed 90%). Oh, and yes, I made 2 partitions on it. At that time, who could imagine such a big space in one chunk, anyway?

  17. harispc
    May 19, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I have a Quantum 2.5GB drive which has 100% health and no bad sectors

  18. Mike Todd
    May 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I have an old Tandy (Radio Shack) 10 MB drive that is larger than most of todays computers, about the size of a Mid tower. At the time I bought it, seems like it was 3 or 4,000.00 Dollars!
    Since we were switching over from 5 1/2 inch floppys (which were REALLY floppy) it seemed like more storage than we could ever use.

    • Madmarsu
      May 30, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      I still got working floppies, if you need some. Freshly formatted for some of them.

  19. Bazzawill
    April 6, 2017 at 5:03 am

    The problem if you sell a nonfunctional hard drive you won't be able to wipe it and it is likely that someone could fix it given an inclination for nefarious purposes.

    • Madmarsu
      May 30, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      intense Magnetic fields (alternative) may help you on this.

  20. RonE
    April 3, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    The oldest hard drive that I have is 5MB that came out of a Z80 based Altos computer.

  21. Mike R
    April 3, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    My oldest hard drive is a 29-year-old double-height 20 MB (yes, megabyte) MFM drive.

    • Saywan
      April 7, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      OMG Just while I was born 1988 :D

    • Sker
      July 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      I, too, have a 30-year-old 20MB MFM double-height hard drive that came with my first desktop computer - an IBM PC clone I purchased new from a company called CompuAdd. I think it was about $2,600 in the late '80s. It also has dual 5 1/4" floppy drives and a CGA monitor (pre-cursor to the VGA standard). Still on a shelf in my basement - and it worked fine the last time I powered it up!

  22. hyperbole
    April 3, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I have a 5Mb hard drive that was sold by Apple in 1981. It ran on the Apple // and Apple ///. The drive housing was about 18x8x4 inches and connected to the computer via a parallel cable. As far as I know the drive still works, but the computer doesn't.

  23. RocRizzo
    April 3, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I have an old Seagate ST-225 that I use as a doorstop. I believe it was a whopping 20 MB.
    Then there is the old Micropolis 1373 SCSI drive. 80 MB and weighs a ton. When you started that baby up, it sounded like a jet taking off! It's not as old as the Seagate though.

  24. Lycophrog
    April 3, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    My first computer doesn't even have a hard drive. It uses a cassette tape player to store data. My first PC has a 20MB HDD.

    • Yaakov
      December 19, 2018 at 5:59 am


  25. Zedden IT
    April 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    wish I could put pictures. I got a 10mb, 40mb &128mb

  26. Borni
    April 2, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    I have a 128 MB 3,5" HDD from my old IBM 468 computer.

  27. Aiden
    April 2, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I still have a 512MB Hard Drive with my Windows 95 on it.

  28. Roy
    March 31, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I have a Clive Sinclair ZX81 with a whopping 1Kb of hard drive. It's in my garage, hooked up to a cathode TV and still works.

    • Greg H
      June 20, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      I think we have a winner here. LOL

  29. Daniel Koppes
    March 31, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I've got an ancient 16 MB hard drive from some time in the early '90's or late '80's. It still works.

  30. Ted
    March 29, 2017 at 3:11 am

    400mb from 1994. That doesn't count the massive bronze platter I've got from an even older drive.

  31. Jeremy
    March 28, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    A few days ago, I raided a computer repair store for some junked old drives and motherboards. Looking through the HDDs, there were several 40Gb, a couple of 500Gb...and TWO 1Tb drives! When the hell did 1Tb drives become junk??

    • Guffy
      April 3, 2017 at 11:15 pm

      If those 1Tb are Seagate; then they become Junk in about 11 months

      • shaoul
        April 4, 2017 at 9:41 am

        guffy, that long ? not in 2 of my nas
        (i had to replace all supplied original hd's that were not nas certified of course).

  32. Alex Fregoe
    March 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    9GB hard drive was the oldest I have ever owned

  33. Age
    March 28, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    my oldest drive is about +20 years old and is a massive 20MB

  34. Jessica
    March 27, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I actually still have several 8gig hard drives, lol
    I would like to know what could be done with the "eye" that's in each drive. I save the steel rods from each, like the ones found in printers. These are perfectly straight and need heat to bend. I wanted to build a backyard foundry and these being great resistant would be great for fabricating the hinges on the furnace and the printer size ones for the handle on the crucible.