DIY CD/DVD Destruction

I have some personal CDs & DVDs to dispose of. And I don't want them to reamain (easily) readable.

There are paper shredders that also shred CDs & DVDs, but I don't own such a shredder.

So I ended up drilling a hole in my optical disks.

My recommendation: don't to this, it's difficult and hazardous.

Even though I used a drill press with a clamp to hold the optical disks, I had disks that came loose and started to spin, with risk of flying in all directions.

That's because I drilled with a speed (around 2500 rpm) that was too high: it made the plastic meld, and got the drill bit stuck in the stack of disks.

A lower drill speed (500 rpm) solved that problem, the plastic no longer melted, but I still had small pieces of plastic and metal film detaching from the disks.

I drilled the hole close to the center of the optical disk, because I remembered that CDs and DVDs are written from the center to the edge. Assuming that data structures that describe the layout of the disk are found at the beginning, drilling a hole there would make the complete disk unreadable.

I tested one disk with a hole, and indeed, my drive was not recognizing any disk:

It's a difficult and hazardous process, don't do it. Especially not with a handheld power drill.

Please post a comment if you have destroyed data supports like CDs and DVDs, especially if you have a safe and easy DIY solution.


Didier Stevens
Senior handler
Microsoft MVP


677 Posts
ISC Handler
Jun 27th 2021
Put your discs in a microwave for a light show and total data destruction.
How about cutting them in half, for instance with a jigsaw mounted under a table, using a guided mounting apparatus like usually done in woordworking, to save fingers.
When it comes to hard drives, Zoz demonstrated quite amusing imaginative methods in DEF CON 23: see

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While effective, doesn't that damage the interior of the microwave?

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While effective, doesn't that damage the interior of the microwave?

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This is also a great way to destruction of the microwave as well. Kind of a costly way to "nuke" the DVDs.
Slight correction on this approach - put your discs in SOMEONE ELSE'S microwave. This method is incredibly effective, visually appealing, and keeps the metallic taste from spreading to YOUR hot dogs next time lunch rolls around.

Someone I know may have done this exact destruction testing with lab-mates in the optical disc lab at a no-longer-in-existence optical disc manufacturer. The spiral arc-splosion of the material is very satisfying, and review with a very high powered microscope and a disc tester showed there was no chance any data survived the fireworks.

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It's BBQ season, so when the wind's blowing away from everyone, a disposable tin tray and plenty of heat reduces the discs to something unusable.

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I think it's common for optical discs to have redundant sectors so they can be read even when scratched. That might tender your drilled hole inadequate as a destructive method.

I have simplified my hard drive retirement by only putting encrypted file systems on them, so I no longer feel compelled to drill holes in them when they seem to have failed.

1 Posts
My recommendation would be to get a pair of sturdy working gloves (and safety glasses) and just snap them in half over a bin.

It's easy to do, does decent physical damage to the disk, requires very little investment in hardware and you should be able to do about one disk per second so even if you have a few hundred disks to dispose of it's still only a couple of minutes of work.
I prefer the good and old fire.
I use a tool that is a cross between a pair of scisors and sheet metal cutters but is extremely sharp. Insert one end in the hole and make a couple of cuts to the center ring. The edges are also very sharp so a few deep scratches on the printed side also helps. Maybe a few cuts on the outer rim of the CD also works too. It would not be able to spin easily again. This is also a good exercise for grip strength.

I have a shredder than does CDs but it really makes a mess and would probably destroy itself with the amount of CDs that I typically destroy.

4 Posts
Good Morning!
While CDs and DVDs do write from the inside out, the destruction of the "Table of Contents" might be destroyed by drilling the inner rings (and some of the leading data) on the disk, if the disk has multiple files and the disk is full, this will not wipe out the remaining readable data but just make it difficult. Each successive ring of data is also larger then the preceding ring of information due to the physical space on a disk, because the physical rings increase with diameter so to does the space for data. If a reader were to be modified in a manner that allows reading of raw data and the data copied to another medium I would think it is very plausible that the readable information can be recovered. Assuming no additional encryption on the stored files were used for the data stored on the disk, this would allow a good snapshot of the information. Shredding a disk would provide far more data destruction as the storage film compressed in the plastic is oxidized and torn in the process, or so one would assume.

Bench vice + drywall screws. Quick and effective.
We have used a device like this:

It runs the faces of the device between two roller with bumps on them, dimpling both faces of the disk. It's not tremendously robust device and wouldn't stand up to high volume use, but for the occasional stack of old disks it has worked well.

1 Posts

Erasing or sanitizing electronic media does not guarantee that all private information is non-retrievable. [The Canadian province of] British Columbia is a leader in protecting electronic data and its industrial shredder, ‘EDDIE’ (Evil Destroyer of Delicate Internal Electronics), breaks down electronic media, such as hard drives, handheld devices and flexible media, to a particulate size of 0.75 inches.

Imagine two metal rollers, placed horizontally, with "teeth", spinning in opposite directions. The operator drops a disk-drive between the rollers, and EDDIE "bites" and "chews" it relentlessly. Unfortunately, a video of EDDIE at work, sparks and all, is no longer online.

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