Media Artist Contingency Plan




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

Does the US Secret Police not approve of your art? Are you a media artist who has gotten on the bad side of a private multinational corporation? Perhaps your government does not approve of the open source co-working tool that you host? Or maybe, you are simply just a troublemaker? Any which way, when Big Brother comes a-knockin' on your door wanting to steal your computer, you need a contingency plan.

This informative little sticker will help guide you towards the quickest methodology of seriously damaging your laptop hard drive during that moment of urgency.

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Step 1: Print

First of all, you will need to download one of these contingency plan sticker files. I recommend printing a full sheet and sharing them with friends and family:
single sticker
full sheet

Print out the file onto transparent adhesive full sheet labels.

Step 2: Cut

Cut your sticker to size.

Step 3: Research

Research the build of your laptop and locate the position of your hard drive. You can use iFixit teardowns to locate the position of your hard drive in most popular laptop makes and models. The hard drive should look like a rectangular box with a centered circle somewhere upon it. In this case, it is in the bottom left corner.

(above photo courtesy of

Step 4: Affix

Affix the sticker to your laptop such that the circular drill guide is positioned above your hard drive, but slightly off from the hard drive's center. If you center it above where the hard drive should be, you might accidentally drill through the drive's motor instead of the platters.

Step 5: Drill (last Resort)

If need be, and you are in a hurry, you can drill through the marked spot with a 1/4" drill bit. If you have a minute on your hands, you may want to consider drilling an 1/8" pilot hole and following up with a larger 3/8" hole. If you have a couple of minutes on your hand, you may want to drill multiple holes.

Possible, alternate methods include sawing through the center of the sticker with a Sawzall or angle grinder.

*** Republished with my own permission from F.A.T. ***

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    13 Discussions


    I know that this is for joking puropses, but in a real life situation, I think a strong magnet would do a better job at erasing data, plus it would be quicker


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Guys, this isn't a serious Instructable. :P It's a sticker intended to spark conversation. Obviously this is a terrible way to destroy "evidence". I'm pretty sure this is just a joke, like that laptop handle Instructable a while back.

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, this is a great way to destroy evidence. It would be literally impossible to recover any information from a hard drive which has holes through it. Haha. I am not saying the Instructable is serious, just that this is an effective way to get rid of data.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Well actually, it could be possible, you just need to put enough holes through the platters to shatter them.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's a surprise. Given the humorous nature of your instructable and the responses, I would have thought you could have taken a joke. Apparently not. Does this mean you are actually serious about this "contingency plan" stuff? BTW, "be nice" works both ways.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I actually just put a thermite kit positioned above my hard drive activatable by a key which I keep on my wrist. Of course, I only use this to protect the data on my work from competitors. I don't plan on making this readily available through instructables though.Not everyone needs this though.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    If you really have done nothing wrong, the very worst thing you could ever do is to destroy (or try to destroy) evidence.

    Secondly, the best way to destroy the data is to securely wipe it with something like dban. Shattering the platters could still potentially still leave some data recoverable.

    The only way drilling the platters would be beneficial is if you're using full-disk encryption *as well*. That way, there's little or no way of them knowing that they've recovered anything useful. Also, if they can recover 40% of your unencrypted files, that's probably still bad. If they can only recover 40% of a large encrypted partition, there probably wouldn't even be enough information to recover any files, even if they had the password.

    In reality, you won't have time to destroy anything. Planning for a dawn raid by the secret service is a weird, but evidently popular, fantasy.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    No, the worst thing you could do is leave evidence. Everyone has done something wrong and in a politically motivated crackdown they're gonna take you in for whatever they can. Assange, for instance, is currently held in Sweden (my country) on suspicion of rape. It's almost impossible to get anyone convicted for rape in Sweden even with witnesses and as far as I know no one has made a formal charge.
    Even if they find nothing they're gonna try to get you for piracy.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent idea! I'm sorry it has gotten to the point where so many people would benefit from these stickers... and carrying around a drill.


    FIrst off I love the idea. In this day and age the level of government corruption, both local and federal, has reached new highs and many say we are being pushed into a police state.

    The problem with this is that drilling through the hard drive will not keep anyone from getting the data. Digital Forensics have progressed to an amazing level where harddrives that have been shattered and burned can be 70-80% restored. As far as I know the only method to destroy a hard drive where no data could be recovered is via thermite which isn't a feasible option with a laptop.

    Link to thermite info: