8 Projects You Can Make With an Old Hard Drive
Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp

Don’t throw out that old hard drive from your computer! Yes, even if you 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 should do 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.

For Working Hard Drives

If the drive is still working, don’t waste that space. It is still valuable storage for your data 3 Ways To Breathe New Life Into An Old Hard Drive 3 Ways To Breathe New Life Into An Old Hard Drive It's in the human nature to collect stuff and in the digital age we mostly collect data. For a long time, the storage capacities of hard drives seemed to increase too slow to match user... Read More . The thing is, you don’t need to use it inside a computer any more.

1. Turn It Into a Portable Drive

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.

hard drives external enclosures

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. You might even want to look at a docking station for multiple hard drives. The coolest DIY solution, though, is building your own HDD enclosure with cardboard Why You Should Build An External HDD Enclosure From Card, And How Why You Should Build An External HDD Enclosure From Card, And How That pile of old hard disk drives in your drawer – isn't it time you tidied them up a little? One way you can do this is by making a card enclosure! Read More .

2. Build a NAS

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 across any device connected to your Wi-Fi.

hard drive nas diy

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 TerraMaster F2-220 NAS Review TerraMaster F2-220 NAS Review The F2-220 2-bay NAS enclosure by TerraMaster is a sub-$200 personal backup and storage solution. It has a dual core Intel CPU, and can handle up to 16TB of storage. Read More where you will have to do nothing but pop in the drive. If you’re on a budget and a little adventurous, you can turn a Raspberry Pi into a NAS box Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into An NAS Box Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into An NAS Box Do you have a couple of external hard drives lying around and a Raspberry Pi? Make a cheap, low powered networked attached storage device out of them. While the end result certainly won't be as... Read More .

For Dead Hard Drives

If the hard drive doesn’t work any more, data storage is out. But 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. Here’s a quick DIY video:

3. DIY Magnetic 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 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.

hard drive diy knife block

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)

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.

hard drives cubicle mirror
Image Credit: Michael Hiemstra via Flickr

You can get creative in your cubicle Stuck In A Boring Job? Here Are 10 Ways To Be Creative Within The Cubicle Stuck In A Boring Job? Here Are 10 Ways To Be Creative Within The Cubicle The humdrum office cubicle is a place few workers dare to express creativity. Despite those shackles enforced from further up the chain, here are ten ways to creatively escape your cubicle monotony Read More 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.

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.

8 Projects You Can Make With an Old Hard Drive hard drives diy platter pocket mirror

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 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 Hard Drive Case

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

hard drive safe

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 swivelling case to stash your emergency money.

7. Fancy Hard Drive Clock

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 Tech Videos -- Best Of The Best YouTube Technology Channels Tech Videos -- Best Of The Best YouTube Technology Channels When it comes to new technology, there are a number of YouTube channels that help you get a grasp on the latest and greatest. Here are ten must-watch channels every geek should subscribe to. Read More , 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 Tech Videos -- Best Of The Best YouTube Technology Channels Tech Videos -- Best Of The Best YouTube Technology Channels When it comes to new technology, there are a number of YouTube channels that help you get a grasp on the latest and greatest. Here are ten must-watch channels every geek should subscribe to. Read More , which looks mighty cool when you add the keyboard keys.

For Working or Broken Drives

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.

hard drive open

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 Sell Your Broken Things on eBay to Turn Them Into Cash Sell Your Broken Things on eBay to Turn Them Into Cash Don't throw away your broken items -- turn them into cash by selling them on eBay! Here's how to go about it. Read More .

In case you’re selling a functional disk, make sure you completely and securely erase your hard drive How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive Read More  – just formatting it isn’t enough. You don’t want any confidential data falling into the hands of the wrong people.

How Big Is Your Oldest Hard Drive?

Right now, the oldest hard drive I have is over 15 years old. It has a capacity of an incredible 20 GB — less than what the pen drive in my pocket has.

What’s the size of the oldest hard disk you still have today?

Image Credit: Imagine Photographer via Shutterstock.com

Leave a Reply

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

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

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

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

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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).

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

    9GB hard drive was the oldest I have ever owned

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

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

  26. 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.