It happens to all of us eventually.
You've upgraded your laptop from that ancient cinder block to a sleek new light weight model.
You got a new desktop PC to replace the one that was so old the keyboard was in Sanskrit.
You have moved over all you family pictures, every song you've collected since high school, all those movies you download ... completely legitimately .. *cough cough* .. no really ... OK ... moving on
So what do you do with the Hard drives you removed before sending the rest of your old computers to be recycled?
I'll tell you what to do .. You grab your tools and gut them for the glorious rare earth magnets (As well as a few other goodies) that are hidden inside.
Step 1: Tools
Hard drive dock / Hard drive USB adapter - If you haven't already transferred your data off of the Hard drives, now would be a good time.
Screw driver / Torx drivers - depending on the manufacturer some screws will be phillips head. Most will be torx, usually between sizes T6 - T10
Pliers - for those parts that need to be "encouraged" out of their original positions.
Step 2: Those Sneaky Buggers
I have yet to find a manufacturer of Hard Drives that doesn't hide at least one screw under the label or some other sort of sticker.
Some will even hide a screw under a sticker ... that is hidden under the label. WTF!
It's like they don't trust us or something.
Once you have all the screws removed you can lift off the top cover. Some manufacturers will use a sticky gasket under the lid so you may need to apply a little force to get it to pop off.
Step 3: Just Like Playing Operation
Once you take the top magnet off the reader arm, you can now swing the arm far enough out of the way so that you can remove the platter(s) after you take off any screws securing it in place. Typically there will be one to three screws securing the platters, but I have seen as many as ten screws on a hard drive from a raid array.
The reader arm is typically press fitted into place so you can pry it out with a screw driver or encourage it to relocate with your pliers.
Now you can unscrew the bottom magnet from the Hard drive case.
You should now have a top and bottom magnet, as well as one or more platters and possibly some aluminum spacers.
Step 4: Laptop Vs Desktop
The Hard drives from a desktop PC will have similar parts to those found in laptops. Right down to the fact that they love hiding screws under the labels and stickers.
The major differences will be that the magnets will tend to be larger and stronger, and the platters will be slightly larger in diameter.
Step 5: What to Do With Your Salvage
Typically I will leave the magnets on the metal plates that they are glued to for several reasons:
It makes them easier to handle in my opinion.
The magnets are relatively brittle and can break easily once off the metal backing, especially if they smash into each other.
These magnets are ridonculously strong and if they are flat on a metal surface (like the side of the fridge) the odds of you lifting them off are slim at best. Most times you will need to slide them off an edge to get enough leverage. The backing will usually keep the magnets from sitting flat on a surface so your odds of lifting them off is fairly good.
**CAUTION** When handling these magnets there is a very real risk of damage to your favorite body parts (fingers, toes, other protruding bits) if they are caught in between two of these magnets during magnet mating season (whenever two magnets get close enough to attract each other). I have been careless in the past and my life lesson was a wicked pinch that drew blood on one of my fingers. Fortunately it was a set of the smaller magnets. Had it been the big ones from the server hard drive it is very possible I would have had a broken finger, or a chunk missing.
I have found a few uses for the platters
They make a great mirror. The hole in the center makes them easy to hang up in a cubicle with one pushpin.
You can hang them up to twist in the wind in your garden to help keep birds and small animals from wrecking your crops.
They make great precision targets. See how many shots you can land in the hole in the center. If your aim is not true you will see one of two results depending on what the platter is made out of. If you have an aluminum platter you will hear a distinct ring as you make a new hole in the platter. If you have a glass or ceramic platter with an aluminum coating .. it's time to head down range and hang up a new platter.
Use one to make a head reflector for your physician's costume for the next Halloween party.