Would Hunter Biden have sent his failed hard drive back to Seagate?

Distilling from the comments on An internal hard disk disappears from Windows, but is still apparently working:

The good news about my $500 9-month-old Seagate (now available for $300) is that it carries a 5-year warranty. So I can send it back to Seagate and they will fix it or send me a new one, rather than spend $300 on a new Seagate or 8X-more-reliable WD (maybe the Western Digital drives are reliable because they are actually designed and engineered by the Hitachi team that WD acquired? WD is still using Hitachi’s old “Ultrastar” brand name to some extent).

Here’s a question for April Fools’ Day… what kind of a fool takes up to 14 TB (formatted capacity of the disk fraudulently marketed as 16 TB) of his/her/zir/their most personal information and sends it to strangers at

Seagate RMA
United States CSO Service Center
Seagate Technology c/o Agility Logistics
21906 Arnold Center Road
Carson, CA 90810

? Who is Agility Logistics, you might ask? Wikipedia says that there is a large Kuwaiti company by this name, but the company’s web site doesn’t show any U.S. facilities. Google says that the Agility Logistics in Carson, CA is a “freight forwarding service”. Where does the failed disk actually go? Asia?

What does the tax-domiciled-in-Ireland Seagate say?

In order to protect your privacy and other interests in data, you should delete all data, or as much as possible, prior to returning any product to Seagate. Seagate realizes, however, that you may not be able to erase certain data on returned products. In any event, Seagate will take the steps described in this statement to protect the physical security of such products and, if applicable, overwrite data as early as possible on products recertified by Seagate.

The first sentence is ironic. If your disk were working well enough that you could delete all data why would you be returning it for warranty repair or replacement?

One argument for trusting Seagate, despite the fact that they won’t tell you anything about where your disk might go after the “freight forwarding” is complete, is that if you tried to dispose of the failed disk yourself and wanted to make sure someone didn’t get hold of your data by sifting through garbage you’d have to take it apart and work to destroy each individual platter. Seagate presumably has some sort of super shredder that they can use.

But, on the other hand, Seagate has the tech skills necessary to recover all of the data if they want to and look at it, post it on the Internet, etc. Who is to say that a rogue worker at Seagate won’t grab personal data and send it to a confederate overseas who will then blackmail the hapless hard drive buyer with messages such as “We need 100 Bitcoin for The Big Guy”?


(And imagine how much better off Hunter Biden would have been if he’d fed his liquid-damaged MacBook into an industrial shredder rather than tried to recover its $1,000 of residual value. Daily Mail:

Files found in Biden’s personal computer included emails showing shady business dealings by the current US president’s son with foreign officials, and texts that showed him repeatedly using the ‘N-word’ and accidentally overpaying a prostitute $25,000 from an account linked to his dad.

Given that the stripper-turned-plaintiff got $2.5 million after having sex with Hunter Biden in an officially determined family court process, I’m not sure that it is reasonable to characterize $25,000+ to a prostitute as an “overpayment”)

And, even more important than WWHBD, what should I do? Ask one of our neighbors with a pavement-melting Ford Bronco to run over the failed disk 10 times?


20 thoughts on “Would Hunter Biden have sent his failed hard drive back to Seagate?

  1. We once had a developer’s hard drive fail. Could not be read/mounted. Luckily, under warranty! However, this engineer was working on some top secret project and we did not want to risk anyone else being able to recover the data, so we abused the drive viciously (threw it against concrete walls many times) and even drilled a very small hole though the drive and platter. Did not look too bad on the outside. Anyway, we bring the drive to a store to exchange it under warranty and the guy behind the counter says “wait one minute”. He comes out with a ground/static strap on his wrist, saying “you can’t be too careful with the electronics of these things”. We were all laughing, but store guy has no clue (and we can’t tell him why either). 😉

  2. if Hunter Biden is allegedly doing “business deals” with the Ukraine oligarchs and knocking up strippers you would think he could at least encrypt his laptop before venturing overseas. His wiki indicates an impressive education but apparently that does not include computer skills.


    Georgetown University (BA)
    Yale University (JD)

  3. “And, even more important than WWHBD, what should I do? Ask one of our neighbors with a pavement-melting Ford Bronco to run over the failed disk 10 times?

    This is an expedient solution. Although if any the steel in the disk drive fragments and damages one of Everglade edition Bronco tires then the cost of a new tire will exceed the value of the disk drive. And the neighbor may start asking why you don’t just RMA the disk drive. Which an can turn into awkwardly deflecting the question by neither confirming nor denying knowing anything about Biden or Ukraine.

  4. I have a bag containing every hard drive I’ve ever owned, including those that I’ve removed from every laptop I’ve ever owned before throwing out the laptop. I’ve kept them all because I’m afraid of somehow not erasing them fully and then throwing them out and something bad happens. They’re relatively small and not hard to throw in a bin somewhere.

    I guess I’m vulnerable to having someone break in and steal them, but you have to pick your battles when it comes to cybersecurity. Overpaying prostitutes from the President’s bank account is fortunately not a battle that I have to worry about fighting.

  5. No-one that concerned with privacy would bother invoking a warranty to save $500. Just writing a new partition table would probably recover it.

    The standard thing more educated countries do is buy another copy of the hard drive for parts & recover the data themselves. It might require moving the platters to the new drive or just replacing the electronicals on the old drive.

    Sadly, the skills needed to recover data have nothing to do with printing money.

  6. In this day and age, when modern processors can do disk encryption almost for free, why would anyone ever have personal data on a non-encrypted hard drive?

    • Quentin: That’s a great question. When I set up the machine in 2015, it didn’t occur to me that it would make sense to encrypt all of the disks (and it wasn’t a default for Windows; I’m running Windows 10 Home, which perhaps doesn’t even have the option). For one thing, what if I forgot the password or there was some other problem in decryption?

    • I think Bitlocker requires Windows Pro / Enterprise version. I encrypted data years ago using third party encryption and didn’t understand public / private key backups and took a data loss. Software based encryption may also put load on the CPU if there is a lot of data. Hardware based encryption has some controversy that it isn’t that secure. Although it may have kept Hunter Biden’s (alleged) Ukraine “business deals” under wraps at least until the mid-term elections.

  7. @Philg: I have more to say, but here’s a fun video (from 2015!) while I type it up. I know I wouldn’t be able to sleep well at night, were it not for companies like SSI. They shred bowling balls! Pianos! Volkswagens! They destroy anything!

    • My Dad used to whack IBM 3330 platters with a ball-peen hammer and then use a propane torch for a minute or two when he really wanted them to GO AWAY FOREVER. He learned that at Chase Manhattan Bank.

      3330s were “cool” depending on how you looked at it because you basically unscrewed their cases, took the lid off, and voilà! there is all 200 MB of it, the size and weight of a car wheel/tire assembly. He didn’t do this very often but I helped him do it with a couple of drives containing sensitive data. Ball-peen + torch + 5 minutes. Hold my Mountain Dew (or beer, but I was too young at the time.)


    • IBM 3330 DASD looks heavy. Ball-peen hammer should still work today for regular disk drives. If Hunter Biden attempted to “clean” his smart phone or tablet containing “business deals” then the ball peen hammer on gorilla glass and glued in lithium batteries may not be that easy. I cannot recall what the encryption situation is for Android or Apple IOS and whether its possible to get around that.

    • @Paul: 3330 assemblies were massive, and when you “screwed them into” the disk drive units that contained the heads and voice coils, everything was exposed to the AIR. So if you wanted them to live for a while, you needed a computer room with adequate filtration so that it helped prevent:

      “The movement of the disk pack from the drive to its storage place exposed it to dust, hair, fabric, etc. As the head flying height was 50 microinch any particle on a disk surface could wedge between the read/write head and the disk surface causing a head crash. Bad news, all data on disk lost.”


      My Dad once owned two banks of them, kept one bank at a time active and the other as spare parts.

      I haven’t tried my hand at destroying a laptop or a cellphone. I will bet, however, that a 12 gauge shotgun with birdshot at close range, enough to spread the shot around a little but so most of it would hit the phone, would do a good job. I have a defunct Samsung Galaxy 4S but I can’t shoot it at my local Rod & Gun club, I’ll have to take it into the woods….and give it a shot.

      If you had access to an industrial oven you could probably cook the thing at 500 or 600 degrees and that would kill it deader than Dilinger.

  8. I don’t know or care much about what Hunter Biden may have done or not (unless it’s really juicy, then I’ll care, I guess) but I *am* concerned about this reflexive tendency, which has now become more than a reflex – to put one’s data in the “cloud” where you, as an individual, really do lose track (because there’s no way to express it) of where it exists at any given moment.

    Microsoft and to some extent every single tech. company is dead-nuts guilty of promoting this fundamental abandonment of personal ownership of even one’s OWN data. It’s really a terrible thing, totally totalitarian.

    The worst we used to have to worry about was warranty repair services somehow abusing your data on the broken hard drive you send back for replacement. It’s much, much worse when you just give it away and your OS boots up from Day One storing your stuff in the Elsewhere’s Elsewhere.

    But lazy people apparently love this s**t, so they’re gonna get what they deserve, eventually.

    Look, Bill Gates’ momma didn’t raise no fool. When she talked to that VP at IBM b/c she was on the Board of the United Way, she knew: one day my son is really gonna know everything, even if he drops out of Harvard!

    • Cloud based storage and social media postings is fine as long as said data is on The Right Side of History (book I haven’t read). The Right Side of History (book I haven’t read) can vary depending on the political party in power , zeitgeist , fashions, airport customs, or perhaps a military checkpoint somewhere in eastern europe so YMMV.

  9. Leeson to Hunter Biden: Next time use the good-old-days proven storage technology such as cassette tapes or floppy disks. So easy to destroy when you want to get ride of any evidence. Fire up the fireplace, grab a glass of wine or vodka from Ukraine and watch those tapes and disks disappear in the gentle flames. Who needs Disney+ or an expansive pussy to enjoy life?!

  10. @Philg: Just to clarify, I don’t think your hard drive – in terms of the basic disk operation failed. I think the controlling hardware – either in the PC or on the drive itself – failed.

    You moved to Florida, so the PC is in a very different location. What happened to the thermals? I’ve seen cases where just moving them from one place to another alters their thermal management enough for something to fail after a while.

  11. I’ve had drives look like they failed when it was some runaway program overwriting the partition table. It’s also happened when the drive wasn’t getting enough power (esp 12V). Back in the Vista days, the OS made my disk completely unreadable and I found out later that it was a bug in Vista’s low level device driver that swapped upper and lower bits under some conditions. Nasty.

    What I am saying is before you give up maybe you should see if another OS can make anything out of it maybe booting by linux from a usb stick or a dvd.

    My own strategy is to always buy 2 of the same drive and keep the 2nd one in an external bay with other backup drives, turning on only for incremental backups on demand (in case you remove something by mistake). I run backups about twice a week or so.

    If nothing works and you want to discard the drive, opening it up and removing the platters is a sure way to protect your data (and you get a couple of shiny coasters too).

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