Introduction: Pulling Apart a Desktop Hard Drive to Get Rare Earth Magnets.

Picture of Pulling Apart a Desktop Hard Drive to Get Rare Earth Magnets.

In this instructable I will show you the steps to take apart a computer hard drive and get the rare earth magnets from it.

Step 1: What You'll Need...

Picture of What You'll Need...

1. A hard drive
2. Appropriate screwdrivers

Pretty simple, eh?

Step 2: Firstly You Will Need a Hard Drive.

Hard drives can be found most everywhere. In Australia we have things called council cleanups where many people chuck out old computers.

For those who don't live in australia there might be a similar thing in your area or is always helpful.

When you get a DESKTOP (only) computer it is pretty straight forward in taking off the case and unscrewing to get out the hard drive. My trusty set of screwdrivers worked well for this purpose.

Sorry, forgot to take pics of me taking out of the computer.

Step 3: My Trusty Screwdriver Set...

Picture of My Trusty Screwdriver Set...

I have had this set for a long time...

It has a bit of a story to it.
Skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to hear my ramblings...

Along time ago I went to bunnings to find a cheap bargain... I do that often! I talked to my friend, the forensic expert, and he got out this set of philips heads, the straight heads, torx heads and some other type of heads.
It cost me $6... Good deals at bunnings.

Well anyway you will most likely need a torx set of screwdrivers as well as philips heads.
Torx screwdrivers are used for taking apart the insides of computers... Not the computers themselves but hard drives etc.

Don' freak out if you don't need a set and you have bought one. I can guarantee that if you take apart 4 hard drives at least one of them will need torx screwdriers.

Step 4: Starting Work on the Hard Drive.

Picture of Starting Work on the Hard Drive.

Get out your hard drive and rip of all of the stickers.
Undo all of the screws that you see and take the cover off.

Step 5: You Should Now Have Something That Looks Like This..

Picture of You Should Now Have Something That Looks Like This..

Again you want to undo all of the screws

Step 6: Cool... Metal Disk

Picture of Cool... Metal Disk

You now have access to the first of the two magnets.
See that thing that has a number on it... Thats a magnet. You will have to pull really hard to get it off.
Directly underneath that is the second magnet. you may need to use a knife to get it off.

You now have 2 rare earth magnets. But wait... you have to be careful with these.

Step 7: Safety With Rare Earth Magnets...

Picture of Safety With Rare Earth Magnets...

Rare earth magnets can be very damaging. They can destroy tv and computer screens.

Well now you have these rare earth magnets what do you do with them?

Check out this site for answers:

Step 8: Getting the Magnet of the Brace!

Due to comments here is how to get the magnet off the brace.

Sorry, No photos, forgot.

What I recommend i not taking them off the brace because most magnets will snap BUT

What to do is get a (blunt) butter knife and slide it under. Then get a pair of pliers and try to grab the top without them sticking.

Using your feet hold the brace and pull using the knife and pliers. Make sure not to snap them bucause the stuff inside is bad for you!


dthomas-1 (author)2011-03-20

I was doing this today and found the perfect method for removing the magnet from the metal plate it is attached to, without doing any damage to the magnet. Simply use the claw end of a claw hammer. slide the metal bracket the magnet is attached to into the claw,( keeping clear of the actual magnet itself) then apply pressure to the opposite end of the metal plate to bend the plate backwards. This creates a large gap under the magnet (and breaks any adhesive used to attach it to the plate) then you just slide the magnet off the plate. Works like a charm and nobody gets hurt. :)

uLTIMA (author)2007-11-13

i been doin this since my great great grand father was sucking on his moms teet, the best way to remove the magnets from the plate is to get 2 pairs of pliers and bend the plate, that breaks the glue and makes the magnet effortless to remove, due to the plate having a curve and the magnet just see-sawing on the plate

AllanW32 (author)uLTIMA2016-11-07

"Developed in the 1970s and '80s, rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types such as ferrite or alnico magnets."

Even assuming you are 12 years old and that your father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather had their children at 12 (not impossible, just unlikely) and that your great-great grandfather was still suckling at age 5 (again not unheard of), 1. It would be 1952 (52 years before you were born) and 2. It would be about 20-30 years before rare-earth magnets were produced that you claim you were harvesting them.

Are you related to Donald Trump, by any chance?

killermobber (author)2016-10-17

this hleps me and my mates

kevin.longeuay made it! (author)2016-06-17

Nice ible! I had to replace my wife's hard drive on her Macbook Pro so I used the magnet for a stir plate on another instructable! I removed the magnet from the brace by bending the metal brace with plyers (the metal brace is a lot weaker structurally than the magnet). Once most of the brace was bent there was only a small surface area that was still glued which was easy to pull off by hand. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it! Here's a couple pictures of the stir plate from the other instructable.


Pizzaface (author)2016-04-28

Will a laptop have a rare earth magnet any where near this size?

Robert JamesC (author)2015-11-24

Considering this post is 8 years old I am deciding to bring it back to life :)

Just got 2 rare earth magnets off my hdd. They're very strong and it almost broke 3 of my fingers hehehehe!

tvazquez2 (author)2015-11-16

Nice instructable, mate! Next time I encounter dinosaur hard-drives I will pull them apart to harvest the magnets. Gort knows I always have use for magnets. lol

However, I do have one problem with this: I'm a fiend for hard-drive Storage. Even if the hard-drive is 10 or 20gbs I still use it for storage, or as temporary work folders. Right now I have a digital multi-track recorder that uses a 10gb hard-drive, so I keep several cloned spare hard-drives for the recorder. I look at hard-drives as "pets", and I don't have the heart to take them apart!

So then, now I'm confronted with having to decide (I hate Decisions. lol): Keeping spare hard-drives for use as storage... Or... tearing them apart to harvest the magnets! lol

lservis kompter (author)2011-06-01

how to repair hard drive when it sound like "click,"

mce128 (author)lservis kompter2015-08-29

I understand that I am replying to an exceedingly old post, however this may help someone save wasted time and effort chasing a red herring...

You don't replace a clicking hard drive, you replace it. Whether you do that either sending it in for a warranty replacement or buy a new one, that's up to you. The only important thing is that you get the replacement prior to the drive dying so that you can clone it without losing data.

lservis kompter (author)mce1282015-08-30

I dont even remember posting this, but thanks anyway :)

topazeyes (author)2008-02-28

You said the stuff inside is bad for you. I didn't. know that. I've broken so many of them.

mce128 (author)topazeyes2015-08-29

Given the age of this post I am replying to, this is more for other folks coming along in the future as I suspect you've probably taken at least a cursory look into this matter in the last seven years...

Yes, the lanthanide series elemental metals aren't exactly good for you, it is very unlikely that you are going to ingest them if cracked in two (or more) pieces. There are far worse threats to your health from ingesting such strong magnets anyway, such as two pieces sticking together from different sections of your intestines and cause severe blockages that require emergency surgery to remove! Really for them to be a chemically active health threat from having ingested or inhaled they would need to be rendered into fine dust and then consumed them though whatever route. Again, that is quite unlikely, so I wouldn't be worried about negative health effects from extracting the magnets from hard drives, even you you accidentally break some. Just don't eat or snort them eh. Also, for the same medical reasoning that I'd mentioned first, one should vigorously avoid consuming whole and intact magnets as well (even non rare earth magnets) and probably also avoid placing them into any other orifices as well (I hope that I really didn't need to say that, but people being people, it is probably better that I did.)

Fat Bagel (author)2008-09-08

Im in Aus to hard rubbish is on now ive seen a few computers around but i dont want to hang around to long getting the hard drives out because they made it illegal to take stuff. but i might give it a shot. cool instructable

milamber (author)Fat Bagel2008-09-26

dude im in aus and it not realy illigal iv taken pcs xboxes and all kinds o stuff no one cares

mce128 (author)milamber2015-08-29

I don't know if your still around on this site or not. But due to your comment, I had to say something. Even if your not, it may help someone else grok the reality of the situation before they one day get caught and get into trouble.

Just because you get away with something, even for an extended period absolutely DOES NOT mean that it is legal!

vonixsilva (author)2015-01-31

In removing the magnet, I just use pliers and hammer. Using this tools, just bend the tip of the plate (not at the middle because there is a probability that you break the magnet). After bending and discover some opening, insert screw driver and flip it off to break the attachment that binds the magnet and the plate. Done! But make sure not to break the magnet. Do it wisely and patiently.

x1c0 (author)2015-01-24

""Using your feet hold the brace and pull using the knife and pliers. Make sure not to snap them bucause the stuff inside is bad for you!""

So what is in it? What am I not breaking, the magnet or the casing around the magnet.

I'd like to get a sense of what precautions I should be taking. Thanks for the info, I'll be pulling apart some old hard drives soon!

Tryten made it! (author)2015-01-08

Hey! I used your instructable to harvest a magnet for my instructable. Thanks!

chaseb1 (author)2014-11-23

are the magnets connected

or_ford98 (author)2012-01-23

put dental floss under the magnet and pull whilst holding on to the unmagnetised metal with pliers of some sort... but you need three hands :'(

skubaduk (author)or_ford982014-02-18

Small vise is less painful than transplanting a third hand.

SpaceBiscuit (author)2008-01-25

I work in IT we just replaced about 300 computers, me and a co-worker pulled all drives (for security reasons) and been doing this for the past month. NOTE: we have a lot of down time with nothing to do :-)

bethmwl (author)SpaceBiscuit2012-12-25

I'd love a job like that, get paid to take things apart. And 300 computers to replace...Holy cow, that's a huge undertaking.

Rocs (author)2012-09-02

I soaked the brackets in rubbing alcohol for 12 hours and the magnets came off easy.

darman12 (author)Rocs2012-09-07

The only problem with removing the magnet from the bracket is that the magnet can easily be broken afterward. It is very brittle.

jazzdferry (author)2011-09-22

I tried Dthomas's method of removing the magnet with a claw hammer-it worked like a charm-very quick.i also put one end , very carefully- in a tabletop vise-much easier for a female who isnt quite as strong.

WardXmodem (author)2011-06-23

I do dozens of these.

Several things work.

if you have one magnet that is on a purely flat piece of metal, grip the metal in a vice, and use a pliers to bend the admittedly pretty heavy duty metal, away from the magnet, until you can slide something thin under one end of the magnet - a knife blade, razor blade, or bending far enough, screwdriver.

HOWEVER when you pry it off, I find maybe 20-30% of the time, the nickle plating comes off, leaving the raw magnet under that area.

NOW, if you have one side of the 2 magnets whose metal bracket has lots of bends (bent up sections) you may be able to drop it on a cement floor or sidewalk in such a way as the G force of stopping suddenly, pops the magnet off. This has worked several times for me.

THE REAL QUESTION IS: What SOLVENT, if any, will gently remove the magnets? It might work best (if there is one) to have bent the metal to expose more of the underside to the solvent.

I have MEK, Lacquer thinner, and could buy some "super glue remover", and try them - if anyone has some try it and post back.


ajohnson54 (author)WardXmodem2011-09-22

I like B12 Chemtool you can find it at most autoparts stores.

szabecki (author)2011-08-12

I realized the great magnets in old hard drives because I take them apart to sell the aluminum. The body of a hard drive is a solid block of aluminum. Not cast. The magnets are a great perk. After I remove anything not aluminum (which is not very much) I put it in a box with others then bring them to the scrap metal place. Usually get around .80 and up per lbs.

Ace Winget (author)2011-07-13

Great work john! I've been looking for something just like this bravo! For the people that are still having a hard time opening or disassembling their hard drive here is an easy to follow image that you should check out. It helped me out too.

mcarrell (author)2011-06-02

Agree. Was looking for instructions on how to remove the magnet from the housing / brace it's attached to. This is an unfinished instructable without that critical info because it completely mutes magnetivity on the flat side of the magnet and the side that is magnetic has 1/4 " standoffs that make it useless for many applications because they get in the way. It seems fiercely attached to this. What method do you (or did you?) use to remove this thing??

idiotjohn (author)mcarrell2011-06-03

Hi there,
As i remember, used a vice and some heavy duty pliers to be the plate that is connected to the magnet, this allowed me to use a screwdriver to pry the magnet from the plate.


Rayisawesome (author)2009-09-10

well i couldnt find any screw drivers that were the rite kind for my hard drive soooooooo i grabbed a hatchet and started hacking. Two cuts, 3 slashes in my carpet, and 45 minutes later i have my rare earth magnets!

1spartan95 (author)Rayisawesome2011-05-14

Thats how we do it down south!

ronmaggi (author)2009-08-17

Wouldn't an electro-magnet be able to push it off? I say electro-magnet because you may need to reverse the polarity. the idea is to put it behind the casing and turn on the electro-magnet, if the magnet doesn't pop off, reverse the polarity.

kjbaran (author)ronmaggi2011-01-20

That would work if the magnet was attached with its own magnetism. However, it is securely stuck in place with a bonding material that ensures the magnet doesn't move during normal operations. :D

snausage (author)2010-04-29

What do I do with the rest of the parts? How can I recycle those? Is there anything toxic in them? THX!

a_guy (author)2010-01-01

Is it possible to run the motor in the hard drive using another power source?

lmlisak (author)2009-11-13

I have been lucky with an X-ACTO knife. Some magnet brackets have 2 threaded holes that are right under each pole of the magnet. Then carefully using the drives machine screws and the xacto knife, I break the bond... eventually getting a slotted screwdriver blade under it. I only broke one... and from then on, I've gotten the "Feel" of it..

clics (author)2008-09-02

A better way to do this is to put the magnet with the casing in a vice and use a pair of pliers or vice grips to bend away the back casing. This will usually make the magnet come off the backing in one corner. You can then simply pull it off if you've got enough separation. If not, you can use a flat head screw driver to get under the magnet and gently pry it off.

mel81 (author)2008-07-24

can you find rare magnets from other electrical equipments such as an old printer or scanner?

idiotjohn (author)2008-04-15

thats great that all of you have found this so useful

Tailslvr7_7 (author)2008-04-07

umm... One of my magnets aren't getting off.

Tailslvr7_7 (author)Tailslvr7_72008-04-07

nm I got them off

sideways (author)2008-03-03

I've been doing this for years because the magnets are so strong. I even use them to hold a christmas wreath on my front window (they'll work thru glass). But watch it, they're strong enough that the force of two of them coming together might break whatever's in between them, like your finger or window. I put a piece of felt between mine and the window.

looking4ideas (author)2008-02-28

This is off topic but why are these magnets called Rare Earth Magnets

idiotjohn (author)looking4ideas2008-02-28

I don't think that is off topic... They are called rare earth magnets because they are made from rare earth alloys of rare earth elements which are: LinkyLinky


jirtan (author)2008-02-06

I took apart over 20 hard drives at work over the course of two or three days, and I made sure to salvage the magnets. I now have a log of magnets and steel on my shelf.

jare-bear (author)2008-02-06

this is a sweet instructable. now i just have to get my parents let me do it to one of our really old HDs lol

About This Instructable




More by idiotjohn:How to use autohotkey and write basic scripts for it.Get into any site that may be blocked - Just have access to My ComputerPulling apart a desktop hard drive to get rare earth magnets.
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