[SOLVED] How to return damaged, unreadable USB thumb drives with data under warranty?

Mar 29, 2021
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The data on my USB thumb drive (looks the same as on http://www.amazon.de/dp/B085SXT9FS) is no longer accessible using a usual consumer computer (cf. https://superuser.com/questions/1687720). I wish to return the drive to the merchant and get my money back. Before that, I wish to make sure that the merchant cannot extract data from it with their equipment — or if they wish to read it, they should have to spend about one to two million € on attempts. How to damage the drive's data beyond (easy) recovery while maintaining the way the drive looks? To keep the warranty, we wish to leave the mechanics intact, i.e., not damage the hull or otherwise destroy it physically on the macroscopic level. That is, no hammers, no nails, no drills.
Some reports on the Web said that microwaving for 5 minutes didn't help and neither did simple immersion into water. How about boiling water? Perhaps, in a pressurized cooker? Or the freezer? I don't have 9 V batteries at my disposal — only 4 × 1.7 V AA batteries — but getting coil to connect them properly would be difficult. Any further ideas using typical household or office items?
 
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My USB thumb drive is no longer accessible using a usual consumer computer (looks the same as on http://www.amazon.de/dp/B085SXT9FS, cf. https://superuser.com/questions/1687720). I wish to return the drive to the seller and get my money back. Before that, I wish to make sure that the seller cannot extract data from it with their technology — or if they wish to read it, they should have to spend about one to two million € on attempts. How to damage the drive's data beyond (easy) recovery while maintaining the way the drive looks? To keep the warranty, we wish to leave the mechanics intact, i.e., not damage the hull or otherwise destroy it physically on the macroscopic level. That is, no hammers, no nails, no drills.
I read that microwaving 5 minutes long didn't help and neither had simple immersion into water. How about boiling water? Perhaps, in a pressurized cooker? Or the freezer? I don't have 9 V batteries at my disposal — only 4 × 1.7 V AA batteries — but getting coil to connect them properly would be difficult. Any further ideas using typical household or office items?
If the data on the flash drive is THAT important just destroy the thing.

How would you ever know that anything you do to wipe the data was successful if you can't read the thing to start with?
 
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Pimpom

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May 11, 2008
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I'd vaguely heard about using batteries to destroy data in a thumb drive but never bothered to find out the details. If you're wiling to go to some trouble to do it, why not just buy the 9V battery? It doesn't have to be a relatively expensive alkaline. Where I live, a Chinese ZnC 9V battery costs the equivalent of something like 30-40 US cents.
 
My USB thumb drive is no longer accessible using a usual consumer computer (looks the same as on http://www.amazon.de/dp/B085SXT9FS, cf. https://superuser.com/questions/1687720). I wish to return the drive to the seller and get my money back. Before that, I wish to make sure that the seller cannot extract data from it with their technology — or if they wish to read it, they should have to spend about one to two million € on attempts. How to damage the drive's data beyond (easy) recovery while maintaining the way the drive looks? To keep the warranty, we wish to leave the mechanics intact, i.e., not damage the hull or otherwise destroy it physically on the macroscopic level. That is, no hammers, no nails, no drills.
I read that microwaving 5 minutes long didn't help and neither had simple immersion into water. How about boiling water? Perhaps, in a pressurized cooker? Or the freezer? I don't have 9 V batteries at my disposal — only 4 × 1.7 V AA batteries — but getting coil to connect them properly would be difficult. Any further ideas using typical household or office items?
If the data on the flash drive is THAT important just destroy the thing.

How would you ever know that anything you do to wipe the data was successful if you can't read the thing to start with?
 
Reactions: Phillip Corcoran

Bazzy 505

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Jul 17, 2021
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Even what you described to have done so far pretty much disqualifies you from any eligibility for return to seller. So from that perspective any further discussion on the topic is kind of pointless.

In future refrain from storing any sensitive data on thumbdrives. Seeing the link leading to german amazon shop, i'm gonna make an assumption you reside in EU. In EU as business entity you are required to have security policy implemented to comply with requirements of GDPR. Part of that policy is also how to dispose of media containing sensitive personal data.
There is a good reason why most well run companies absolutely forbid use of thumbdrives in the workplace environment.

If it's you personal drive, take a hammer to it and put it to ewaste bin.
 
Reactions: Phillip Corcoran
Mar 29, 2021
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How would you ever know that anything you do to wipe the data was successful if you can't read the thing to start with?
I wouldn't be able to check whether destroying the data is successful. However, I don't necessarily need that check. Indirectly (e.g., using good advice and common sense) knowing that some procedure does destroy the data would suffice.
 
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ex_bubblehead

Champion
Moderator
As already said once. If the data is that important to you then simply destroy the drive and forego any warranty (USB drives are cheap). Anything you do to that drive will invalidate the warranty anyway.

And, a moderator warning here. This entire discussion is treading very near to prohibited territory. Any discussion on how to damage something in a way not detectable for warranty purposes constitutes fraud, and will be immediately deleted and guilty parties sanctioned.
 
Mar 29, 2021
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18
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As already said once. If the data is that important to you then simply destroy the drive and forego any warranty (USB drives are cheap). Anything you do to that drive will invalidate the warranty anyway.

And, a moderator warning here. This entire discussion is treading very near to prohibited territory. Any discussion on how to damage something in a way not detectable for warranty purposes constitutes fraud, and will be immediately deleted and guilty parties sanctioned.
Thanks!

First, while the particular USB thumb drive at my place could be considered as cheap (256 GB for 29,99 €), other USB thumb drives are way more expensive (e.g., http://www.amazon.de/dp/B089DKRLSB). The issue is orthogonal to the price.

Second, nobody said the procedure should NOT be undetectable by any means. Some merchants (among them, by experience, not always but often my merchant) are intentionally willing to reimburse the cost of the broken electronics (assuming its low quality could have already been built in during production) simply to keep you as a customer. If you do not damage the drive macroscopically AND explicitly state the way you intentionally destroyed the data, then you:
  • give them the possibility to exercise goodwill by turning a blind eye, reimburse you, and keep you as a customer, and
  • stay within the law (no fraud because you explicitly state what you did with the product and hide nothing).
 
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