DIY CD/DVD Destruction - Follow Up

Published: 2021-07-04
Last Updated: 2021-07-04 18:22:02 UTC
by Didier Stevens (Version: 1)
6 comment(s)

Thanks a lot to all of you who posted a comment on my diary entry "DIY CD/DVD Destruction". They inspired me to try out some other methods.

The most popular suggestion, was to destroy the CDs inside a microwave. And when I watched YouTube videos of CDs inside a microwave, I certainly was impressed by the damage done to the metal layer of the CD.

But I only have one microwave that we use to prepare food, and I'm not willing to experiment with something that we will continue to use for food preparation. So I did not try out that method.

Someone suggested to just snap the CDs in two, wearing gloves. I tried that: I put 10 CDs in a plastic bag, and snapped them in two (sometimes more than 2 pieces) wearing gloves, inside that bag to contain plastic and metal flakes. It took me 38 seconds to snap 10 CDs, and it was not difficult. So that method worked for me.

Another reader suggested to cut the CDs, using something like metal shears.

I tried that too with 10 CDs. It worked, but it took met 45 seconds to cut 10 CDs and I found it harder than snapping CDs.

All the comments regarding (microwave) ovens, inspired me to try with a heat gun.

That didn't work out. First of all, after 1 minute, I still had not melted a stack of 10 CDs. When I tried just one CD, it took 42 seconds to deform the CD so that it would no longer fit inside a drive. I used the heat gun outdoors, just in case fumes would be generated, but I didn't see any. Maybe there were fumes coming out of the melting plastic, but I didn't see or smell any.


If you have more ideas, feel free to post a comment! :-) Keep it safe!

Didier Stevens
Senior handler
Microsoft MVP

6 comment(s)


Did you consider abrasive flap discs in a drill press? it would do considerable damage and you can de a fair amount of destruction. You probably could get away with heavy-duty Scotch-Brite pads for low-volume application dozen or so discs.

If you're going for volume I would probably point you more towards a brake press. You can but one in store or make one with a bottle jack and a few pecies of metal or a reasonable price. Pros for this is you can so a large number of them in little time. depending on the type of breaks you use you will end up with lots of small pieces or a few large pieces. I would recommend having a barrier in front of you for this regardless. Shards of death are not fun when they fly towards you.

If you don't care for the environment you have burn bins / camp fires / BBQs.
Hi Didier, can consider cross-cut shredders such as this: Have fun!
We used to use the industrial strength paper shredder at the office, one-at-a-time, and was successful as well as satisfying.
Go to the range with your new S3-X or (less good) favorite Glock. Replace the target spinners with CD's. A little thermite in the target area gives you instant feedback on your marksmanship.
Now fire away.
Obtain more ammo if you missed. Repeat as needed. Have fun, get rid of those telling DVD's and improve your shooting skills.
I still like the idea of drilling holes even though I cut them up. I was making most cuts in the center ring so it cant spin anymore with a few on the outer ring. Not always cutting all the way across. Anything to make them out of balance and unable to spin smoothly should make them impossible to read.

I have thought about using the same superglue that I use for making ink pens to glue a manageable stack of CDs. This might keep them from flying all over the place when drilling. The drill press you were using would accept sliding blocks that could be locked and hold in place the CDs on 4 sides. It might work then and make more of a mess for someone trying to unstick a stack of drilled and destroyed CDs. I would use a piece of plywood under the CDs to keep from drilling into the base.

Could also scratch up the label side first for better adhesion. I really appreciate the different ideas on this as I have quite a few that I need to destroy and have been thinking about it.
The type of data that is stored on the media with your risk profile and level of risk acceptance certainly comes into play here. Our efforts have simply to rub the media (CD/DVD) label side up on our workbench (or other rough surface), scratching the data side to death. Then we mix in any extra media we have from old driver discs in a box and ship all of them to a recycler. Your local recycling facility may take them, or searching online finds

For further details on recycling CD/DVD media:

And the US Army has this PDF with directions and recyclers:

Note that WikiHow has a page on this topic:

I found that scratching the media to prevent the common/easy data recovery methods, then sending to a recycler is a reasonable balance of risk management and resources/time invested.

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