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We destroyed three laptops to see if their SSDs would still work


Spending hours on YouTube can be productive. Take watching a ton of videos of people smashing stuff. All inspired, we at CyberNews decided to take three perfectly good laptops and attempted to see if hard drives in them would survive an industrial level of destruction. Like a fall down a 50m tall crane. 

Destruction breeds creation, as the late '90s hit song 'Californication' accurately points out. We can surely attest that being true, as lust to destroy something consumed our office for longer than we'd like to admit. Enter: hard drive durability test.

Why though?

To make it as interesting for us and you as possible, we decided to take three working laptops and spectacularly end their existence. But first, let's introduce our unfortunate lab rats we'll be conducting our mad experiment on: Lenovo G550, Toshiba Satellite L30, and Lenovo M5400 Touch.

They were no dummies either. To turn this fun trip into an actual experiment, we stuffed all three laptops with videos our team has tirelessly labored on for days. We want to find out how far we can push the devices and still get to see our sweet, sweet videos.

This construction site served as a laboratory for our destructive experiment

Our lab - a massive construction site, obviously. 164ft crane? Check. Ten-ton excavator? Yep. Road roller? Of course. One of the laptops will leave the crane parachuteless, while the other two will have an uncomfortably intimate encounter with some hardcore machinery.

Good thing is that our team has some very persuasive people on board. Who would have thought you couldn't just rock up to a construction site and politely ask to throw a laptop off a crane. After some successful convincing, the crane owners let us use their machinery. Now we only had to find a way to do it.

Drop it, crush it, smash it

Unsurprisingly, none of us wanted to climb the arm of the crane to drop the laptop. So, we had to MacGyver ourselves a custom-made solution, a device that would trigger-release the laptop into an unforgiving grasp of gravity.

With some DIY expertise from our colleagues, we decided that a wooden box from IKEA will do. Shout out to our incredible teammate who made the actual lever that allowed us to avoid risking our lives for the sake of the experiment.

Seconds before an unsuspecting laptop was turned into a pancake

With all things in place, our first test dummy – Lenovo M5400 Touch - was sent spiraling down, landing on its corner and splattering its remains in all directions. This laptop was equipped with an HDD, and our hopes to retrieve the data were not really high.

Our second victim - Lenovo G550, met the full wrath of an excavator bucket. Unsurprisingly, hard metal crushed the poor laptop to smithereens. The driver 'gently' brushed over the crushed laptop to add insult to injury, leaving a trail of debris where once was a working laptop.

Finally, it was time for the Toshiba Satellite L30. Placed firmly on solid ground, the final participant of the experiment was slowly driven over with a several-ton road roller. Once dust left by the metal beast settled, a flattened pancake laptop appeared in front of our eyes.

Surprisingly, it was seemingly in better shape than the previous contender. Now came the time to see whether our precious data was still where the laptops previously were.

An ingenious device, an IKEA crate with a laptop in it, hanging high in the skies

The results

After collecting the remains of our brave test subjects, we headed back to our headquarters to see how the laptops fare against the brutal forces of nature and machinery. 

Even though our first test subject, Lenovo M5400 Touch, was dropped from a crane and landed on its corner, the precious HDD turned out to be visually intact. After some screwdriver magic, the CyberNews team removed the HDD from a fallen laptop and plugged it into a working computer.

To much of our gasping surprise, we were able to play the video that was stored on the HDD effortlessly. Apparently, HDDs are far better equipped against a 50-meter fall than any of us imagined.

We tested the pancaked Toshiba second. Dust from the construction side infested the computer's insides, but our team could retrieve the SSD of the once working laptop. After plugging the drive-in, however, we found it was dead.

Remains of destroyed equipment ready for thorough testing

Lastly, we easily took out the SSD from the Lenovo G550, which we smashed with an excavator bucket. Even though the excavator crushed the laptop to pieces, the SSD was fine, and after plugging it into our computer, we found out that our videos were alive and well.

Two out of three. Not bad, and a lot better than we expected. So, in case of the unfortunate event of your favorite laptop smashing to the ground, don’t tear up just yet. It’s likely your precious data is entirely salvageable. After all, as we’ve shown, high altitude is not necessarily a death sentence even to an HDD.

When you’re confident that your data is safe from physical threats, it’s time to turn your attention online. Threat actors roam the web, and you might never know who’d like to take a peek at what’s inside your computer. To defend yourself against unwanted attention, be sure to have a decent password manager and use a VPN to hide from whoever might want to eavesdrop.


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