Thread: Memory question

  1. #1
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    Sep 2007

    Memory question

    This may be a bit of a strange question but here it goes. My girlfriend called me saying her nephew was playing around with my computer parts we have at home. He used magnets on my computer memory (RAM). I won't be able to get back for a day or two to check if it's fine, but does that mean it's finished? You always see in movies and hear about people using big magnets on hard drives to ruin them and wipe them out. If anyone could let me know if that ruins the memory or not that would be great. If it does, what exactly happens during contact between the magnet and the memory that causes it? Thanks guys.

  2. #2
    Jack of many languages Dino's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
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    I suspect it will be fine. A hard drive could lose its low level formatting, but I suspect you could even get that back too.
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  3. #3
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    Oct 2001
    It's more a problem with floppies, like 3 1/2 disks or 5 1/4 disks. You might not have any of those around.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    I've never been able to erase anything including the old 5.25 floppies with magnets. Even if the magnets affected your RAM it won't do anything since the RAM is volatile in the first place.

  5. #5
    Deathray Engineer MacGyver's Avatar
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    Data in RAM is only expected to be stored in there for as long as the power is on. That is why we have hardrives and other medium for long-term storage.

  6. #6
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    That's good to know, thanks a lot. So ppl mentioned it not really even working with hard drives. I guess that's always been kind of an "computer myth" when it comes to destroying data. So you'd pretty much just need good software to get rid of data forever? I mean the things those computer forensics guys can do is pretty amazing now a days. I mean aside from formatting it dozens of times (which probably still wouldn't even work), you'd pretty much have to completely destroy it to avoid reading data from it?

    Let's say I formatted my drive 50 times, wrote a program to write random data to fill up my hard drive. Than repeated the process of formatting it dozens of times. Would the only data that's able to be retrieved the data written to disk the second time, or is the original data still accessable?

    I've never really though about this stuff before...

  7. #7
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    Oct 2007
    Inside my computer
    It's possible. Today's technology is incredible at recovering data.
    The safest way is to destroy it, absolutely.
    But I'm also guessing you can break it up, then take a large magnet and hover it over the magnetic plates forth and back for some time is going to have severe impact on the data stored.
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  8. #8
    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    I'm no CSI man. But I've heard the I/O heads can come out of line over time (by a few thousand atoms), and parts of data is left on the disk. Or something along those lines.

    I'd say the best way is to buy a smelter

  9. #9
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    no, the heads dont lose alignment in modern drives, what happens is the magnetic domain permeates into the subsurface region leaving a latent magnetic moment. sophisticated hardware can read this latent magnetism (destructively). Thats why the only real way to destroy your data is to write over it with random data multiple times. Generally 7 times is considered suffciient even for the NSA. This pushes the latent MM so far into the substructure that it is likely to lose coherency with neghboring fields, making it essentially useless random data.

    Actually, some of this can take place in the inter-track regions as well, since the tracks are spaced far enough apart so the fields dont interfere with each other.

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