Share this article

What Is The Relationship Between Hard Disk Drives and Neodymium Magnets?

A neodymium magnet is a rare earth magnet composed of mainly neodymium, iron, boron, and transition metals. They are much more powerful than regular household neodymium magnets and have superior performance in applications because of their strong magnetic field. They embody the strongest pull when fitted with their counterparts, making it the most powerful neodymium magnet ever invented and commercially available to consumers from vendors like ROBO Magnetic. They are usually called ‘permanent neodymium magnets’ because they can last for an extended period of time without demagnetizing.

A key feature of a neodymium magnet is its strength for such a small magnet. Larger neodymium magnets measuring larger than a few cubic centimeters are strong enough to cause serious bodily harm if handled carelessly. Yet, they have become the most widely used of the many variants of magnets since their discovery in the early 1980s.

They can be found in most hard disk drives, floppy disks, CD driver heads, and in more complex machinery like the magnetic parts of cars and airplanes. Neodymium magnets come in different grades, and the grades of these neodymium magnets indicate their magnetic strengths.

In this article, we at ROBO Magnetic will walk you through the presence of neodymium magnets in a hard drive and how you can safely use them to their full potential.

Why Are There Neodymium Magnets in Hard Disk Drives?

Before the discovery of neodymium magnets, samarium cobalt magnets were the most commonly used but were replaced by neodymium magnets due to the expense of manufacturing samarium cobalt magnets. This is important to note.

The hard disk is one of the major storage devices in a computer system, and data are stored in these disks based on magnetism. Hard disk drives contain neodymium magnets that play the primary role of controlling the movements of the heads that read and write data. The number of neodymium magnets found in hard drives is typically few. Most hard drive models have two neodymium magnets, while others have four which come in smaller sizes.

The hard drive has a large magnetic plate that stores data by assigning each tiny part a specific binary number, either a one or a zero. The neodymium magnets hold the actuator of hard drives, which magnetizes the disk plate in the hard drive to store and retrieve data. The ability of hard drives to store and retrieve data is done with the help of a permanent neodymium magnet, and that is where neodymium magnets come into play. Simply put, they help in the spring and retrieving of data, so every time you pull something up from your hard drive or save something in it, a neodymium magnet is at work.

How To Safely Retrieve Neodymium Magnets From Old Hard Disk Drives

An easily accessible place to get neodymium magnets is inside your old computer hard drives. More people are beginning to find out how strong these neodymium magnets are and the various things they can be used for and are popping up open their old hard drives in hopes of finding one. But like we said, neodymium magnets are very strong and can cause serious bodily injury. This being established, the challenge is usually ways in which one can safely retrieve these neodymium magnets from the old computer hard drives.

A key note is that even though neodymium magnets may feel like metal, they are not. They are fragile and can be called ‘nickel-plated ceramic objects’ that can break if handled wrongly. So if you want to remove neodymium magnets safely, here are detailed steps on how to do so.

Tools You Will Need

To carry out this process successfully, you will need

  • A screwdriver with a 6 Torx (t6) and a 9 Torx (t9) bit
  • An old hard drive that doesn’t work anymore. These can be obtained from hardware stores or online markets.

Steps to Extract The Neodymium Magnets

  1. With the help of the t9 bit screwdriver, carefully remove the screws around the top cover of the hard disk drive. In most hard disk drives, there is one last screw hidden underneath the sticker on the top cover.
  2. Once the drive’s cover is removed, you’ll find a disk plate at the center of the drive and metal brackets holding the neodymium magnets, typically at the bottom left or right of the drive, depending on the model. Take out the top metal piece by unscrewing it.
  3. Use your t6 bit and take out the disk plate at the center of the drive for easy access to the lower part of the metal brackets.
  4. Once that is done, remove the actuator arm and unscrew the lower metal bracket holding the second neodymium magnet.

Note: The neodymium magnets are typically glued to these metal brackets. For some models, the neodymium magnets can easily slide off the plate with a little pressure from the fingers. However, getting the neodymium magnets out might be difficult without damaging them for other more common models. You will have to be extra careful for those that don’t come off easily because these neodymium magnets can be severely damaged if they’re forcefully yanked out of the plates.

  1. To safely remove the neodymium magnets from the metal plates, it is advisable to use a vice. Place the metal piece holding the neodymium magnet into the vice so that the vice doesn’t come in contact with the neodymium magnet and secure it. Then with the help of a pair of channel locks, grab the other end of the metal piece and bend it to release the glue bonding the neodymium magnet to the metal plate. Once done, the neodymium magnet can be easily taken off the metal plate. The same also applies to the second pair of neodymium magnets.

An alternative method is ungluing the neodymium magnet from the plate, which involves heating the metal plate to release the glue bond. This method ensures that no part of the neodymium magnet breaks and the nickel coating does not chip off. However, this method is tricky because extreme temperatures can alter their atoms regardless of how powerful neodymium magnets can be. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause them to lose their magnetic properties completely. Therefore, removing neodymium magnets from their metal plate with heat must be done with extreme care to ensure the right amount of heat is applied to ensure no damage is done to the neodymium magnets.

Can Neodymium Magnets Destroy Hard Disk Drives?

At one point or the other, while growing up, we must have heard the rule that neodymium magnets should never come in contact with gadgets, especially computers. This is because the neodymium magnets can destroy the data stored on them and mess with the general functioning of the system. Most people dismissed this as a myth because after trying it out with regular neodymium magnets, the data on the computers were still intact, and the neodymium magnets did no damage at all. However, after more experiments, it was realized that this isn’t entirely a myth. Neodymium magnets can corrupt data stored on a hard drive and render it unreadable, and for this to happen, it requires a powerful neodymium magnet coming in direct contact with the magnetic plates in the hard drive.

Computer technology was not so advanced in the past, and systems used floppy disks to store data. These floppy disks are so light that regular magnetic contact with them will destroy the stored data. Over time, computer technology has evolved, and hard disk drives with very powerful neodymium magnets are now used to store data.

As earlier stated, data are stored in hard drives based on magnetism. The powerful neodymium magnets inside the hard drives create a magnetic charge that controls the movement of the actuator arm to read and write data. It, therefore, takes another powerful neodymium magnet to be placed on the magnetic parts of the hard drive to interrupt the magnetic charges, causing a malfunction in the hard drive’s ability to read and write data.

According to the experiments, passing a neodymium magnet on the top of a hard disk drive caused it to stop working and corrupt the data embedded on the surface of the disk platter. This renders the hard disk unreadable, but the data stored inside the platter is still intact and only recoverable by professionals with high data recovery skills. Cheaper and less powerful neodymium magnets will do no damage to the hard drives, no matter how big they are.

Summarily, the neodymium magnets in your hard drive can not damage the hard drive, but external neodymium magnets can.

Summary

Neodymium magnets, also called Neo magnets are very powerful rare earth magnets used in common household appliances. Their strength and smaller sizes make them perfect for use in computer parts like the hard disk drive, as opposed to other rare earth magnets.

In this article, it has been our goal to help you understand the complex relationship between hard disk drives and neodymium magnets. If you’d like to know much more about neodymium magnets, you should check out the ROBO Magnetic blog page for more informative articles like this.

Since 2006, ROBO Magnetic has been manufacturing Neodymium magnets and has maintained the brand’s reputation by guaranteeing the quality of products is unrivaled and proficient. Neodymium magnets are the only high-quality and permanent magnets available from this supplier, which means they are specialists in the matter.

robo_magnetic

Article by

ROBO Magnetic Product Team

We are the manufacturer with 16 years of experience in custom neodymium magnets.

Need A Quote? Get in touch with us directly.

Share this article

0 0 votes
Article Scoring
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments