[K12OSN] OT: hard drives and magnets

Rob Owens rowens at ptd.net
Fri Mar 16 20:53:38 UTC 2007

Is it possible the magnet wiped out only the MBR or some other such
important section of the hard drive?

Nevertheless, I don't see why it's a big deal.  Let the student know
that the computer is his responsibility while it's in his posession, and
have him come to your office during lunch or after school and re-install
the software under your supervision.  Treat it as a learning experience, rather than a punishment.


On Fri, Mar 16, 2007 at 11:32:49AM -0500, Eric Brown wrote:
> Hello all,
> A student has been using a school owned Acer laptop w/xp pro, less
> than 6 months old.  It was brought to me today saying NTLDR could not
> be found.  In my expirence, this means it's either booting from a
> non-bootable disk, the hard drive is damaged, or at least a major
> chunk of the hard drive has been erased.  Using some of the various
> recovery Linux live cd's, I determined that the hard drive is healthy,
> and is totally empty, save for an empty "Recycle Bin" folder.
> The kid claims they may have put a magnet near the computer.  The
> principal claims certain types of batteries could wipe a hard drive.
> What reading I've done says a magnet may corrupt some files on a hard
> drive, but it would take an industrial size magnet to wipe it and it
> would also be rendered unusuable in the process.
> Has anyone gone through this?  Is it possible to wipe an entire hard
> drive with a magnet found at home, but still have it usable?
> I'm currently running a recovery (unformatting) program on the disk so
> I can see what the browser history and such were before the culling of
> the drive.  The reason I want to make sure I'm on firm ground here is
> that the student's mother is very difficult to deal with, and believes
> anything her child tells her, unless there were 20 witnesses and a
> video of any transgression.
> Thanks,
> Eric
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