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.
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Step 1: What you'll need...

Picture of What you'll need...
HARD DRIVE 005.jpg
HARD DRIVE 002.jpg
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 freecycle.org 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.
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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: http://www.dansdata.com/magnets.htm

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!
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dthomas-14 years ago
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. :)
vonixsilva5 months ago

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.

x1c06 months ago

""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!6 months ago

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


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chaseb18 months ago

are the magnets connected

or_ford983 years ago
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 :'(

Small vise is less painful than transplanting a third hand.

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 :-)
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.
Rocs2 years ago
I soaked the brackets in rubbing alcohol for 12 hours and the magnets came off easy.
darman12 Rocs2 years ago
The only problem with removing the magnet from the bracket is that the magnet can easily be broken afterward. It is very brittle.
jazzdferry3 years ago
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.
WardXmodem4 years ago
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.

I like B12 Chemtool you can find it at most autoparts stores.
szabecki3 years ago
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 Winget4 years ago
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.
mcarrell4 years ago
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)  mcarrell4 years ago
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.

how to repair hard drive when it sound like "click,"
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!
Thats how we do it down south!
ronmaggi5 years ago
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.
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
snausage5 years ago
What do I do with the rest of the parts? How can I recycle those? Is there anything toxic in them? THX!
a_guy5 years ago
Is it possible to run the motor in the hard drive using another power source?
lmlisak5 years ago
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..

Fat Bagel6 years ago
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
dude im in aus and it not realy illigal iv taken pcs xboxes and all kinds o stuff no one cares
clics6 years ago
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.
mel817 years ago
can you find rare magnets from other electrical equipments such as an old printer or scanner?
idiotjohn (author) 7 years ago
thats great that all of you have found this so useful
Tailslvr7_77 years ago
umm... One of my magnets aren't getting off.
nm I got them off
sideways7 years ago
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.
This is off topic but why are these magnets called Rare Earth Magnets
idiotjohn (author)  looking4ideas7 years ago
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

topazeyes7 years ago
You said the stuff inside is bad for you. I didn't. know that. I've broken so many of them.
jirtan7 years ago
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-bear7 years ago
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
Forgot to add in my last POST: the platers make great cubical mirrors :-)
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