How to Sell Your Used Hard Drives: A Complete Guide

Technology is moving so fast, and investing in new hardware is now commonplace for both individuals and businesses: new smartphones, new laptops, and with the amount of data we deal with every single day becoming more and more massive, investing in bigger and faster hard drives is now a necessity. 

So,  what should we do about those extra hard drives we’ve piled up over the years? Is it safe to throw it away? What if malicious people steal the data stored in the hard drive? Is there any safe way to sell it and make some money off it? 

In this post, we’ll discuss all you need to know about how to sell your used hard drives safely.

Without further ado, let us begin by addressing the elephant in the room: is it safe to sell your used hard drives?

Is It Safe To Sell Your Hard Drives?

The short answer is YES, it is totally safe to sell your used hard drives, provided they have been properly wiped. When a hard drive has been wiped securely, there’s no chance of others recovering any remnant data from it. 

However, according to a pretty recent, 2019 study by Comparitech, only 26% of the analyzed hard drives in the study has been properly wiped, 16% is not accessible at all, and a whopping 58% of these used hard drives still contain recoverable data about the previous owners.

So, the question is, how can we properly wipe out hard drives? 

Securely Wipe Your Old Hard Drive

Before anything else, check whether the hard drive in question is a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) with spinning, motorized disk, or the newer solid-state drive (SSD). Both types write, allocate, and erase data with completely different methods, so we should also use different approaches depending on the types of hard drives we are dealing with.

For HDDs

Securely erasing data in HDDs is relatively simple. 

On Windows: 

  1. Run Windows Disk Management. Click Start->Run, then type diskmgmt.msc in the box
  2. Select the drive to be formatted
  3. Uncheck the “perform a quick format” checkbox, and select NTFS
  4. Format the drive three times to make sure it’s totally clean

On Mac OS

  1. Go to the Utilities folder and run Disk Utility (you can open the Utilities folder by hitting Apple+Shift+U together)
  2. Select the drive to be formatted, and click erase
  3. Repeat the process three times

For SSDs

Wiping data from SSDs is typically more complicated, but the best approach is to use the disk management software/app provided by the SSD’s manufacturer. For example, if you 

Use a Seagate SSD, then you can use Seagate’s DiscWizard for this purpose. 

Most prominent SSD manufacturers offer their own disk management solutions, but if you can’t find the manufacturer’s tool and/or if you don’t know who your SSD manufacturer is, then a viable option is to use third-party solutions like Blancco Drive Eraser (free with premium version) as well as other free and paid options available out there. 

Before you sell your hard drives, take the appropriate steps to ensure your data is 100% gone and not recoverable before selling your hard drives. 

Also, if you are selling to companies specializing in bulk-buying IT equipment (including hard drives), they will securely wipe your data for you. Some buyers may also hire a third-party specialist for this purpose. This is why selling your drives to specialists like Big Data Supply.Inc is preferred, so you don’t have to worry about all your data security details. 

How To Sell Your Used Hard Drives: Step-By-Step

Step 1: Identify Your Hard Drives 

First, figure out what your hard drive(s) are so you can identify its market price based on its condition. 

If you only have one or a few hard drives, then this should be fairly easy, but if you have several hard drives, then this might be rather complicated. 

You might want to create a spreadsheet and list the following information for each hard drive: 

  • Brand
  • Model or Serial Number
  • Type (SSD, Hybrid or HDD)
  • Size
  • Condition (with pictures)
  • Connector type

It’s best to be honest about your hard drive’s condition. It’s fairly easy for the potential buyers to check the condition later, so it’s simply not worth it to lie. 

Step 2: Identify Potential Buyers

You generally have two buyer options: 

    1. Sell on marketplace platforms or directly to a private buyer/seller. For example, on Amazon or eBay. Remember that if you take this route, you’ll need to securely wipe your data yourself, as we’ve discussed above. You might get a higher price (provided you can find the right buyer), but in general, the process will be more time-consuming and difficult.
    2. Sell to specialist companies. Like Big Data Supply Inc. the advantage, as discussed, is that they will securely wipe your drive for you with their data decommissioning service. So, you can ensure your data security with less hassle. 

Typically it’s best to sell to a specialist end-of-life IT solution company. While it’s possible that you could make more selling to direct buyers or through a marketplace, if you take the time and the efforts needed, it might not be worth it in the long run. 

Step 3: Sending Your Hard Drives

You’ve found your buyer, congratulations! 

The last step is to package and send your used hard drives safely. 

It’s crucial to make sure your drives are packaged correctly to prevent physical damages (which may result in you failing to sell the drive). If necessary, you should also purchase insurance on your packages to protect your drives from situations like when your shippers mishandle the drive and cause damages. 

Wrapping Up

As discussed above, it is possible to sell your used hard drives while ensuring your data cannot be accessed by your buyers or other parties. The most important thing is to ensure your data is wiped properly and is unrecoverable. You can do it yourself with the steps we’ve shared above, but there are also specialist IT bulk-buying companies that will also securely wipe your data for you before they’ll buy your drives. 

So, before you decide to destroy your drives in fear of people accessing their content, keep in mind that you can safely get extra cash by selling your wiped drives. 

You may be interested in: What Debts Can Be Erased in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?