Can magnets scramble computers?

Written By: simplistics Category: Magnets Date: 2016-08-05 Hits: 2788

Magnets are used all the time in electronics, so that must mean they’re pretty harmless, right? Not so fast. It could be possible that magnets have the power to harm your hard-drive.

A sticky situation

There have been theories and warnings around using computers or storing computing machinery near magnets. But is all the caution necessary? And what exactly can be harmed or potentially harmed by magnets at a close proximity?

The theory behind magnetic destruction of hard-drives is that as a magnet comes close to the platters of a hard-drive, damage will occur.

It is theorized that the magnet disrupts the state of the magnetic particles on the platters, thus scrambling the data and essentially deleting the content on the computer. But in order to better understand this, you need to have a better general understanding of computer anatomy.

The basics

To fully understand the potential dangers that magnets might pose on your computer, you need to understand the basics behind your machine.

  • Monitors:
    Older CRT monitors use magnets to help project the image on the screen, so a magnet would cause some damage if the monitor wasn’t protected or shielded. However, the LCD and LED monitors that are more widely used today, are not affected by magnets.
  • Hard-Drives:
    The hard-drive has a very powerful magnet inside that controls the interior movement, thus, because of how hard-drives work, magnets won’t delete anything from your hard-drive. If the magnet inside the drive doesn’t delete any information, a magnet on the exterior won’t wipe any information either. However, if you leave a powerful magnet on top of your hard-drive, there is a slight chance that it could cause damage to the hard-drive itself while it’s functioning.
  • Flash Memory:
    Storage items like SD cards and thumb drives have nothing magnetic in their construction, so they’re completely safe and magnetic-resistant.

The power of magnets on computers - Is it really that bad?

Hard-drives store information magnetically, and since magnets have the ability to change the directions of the items they come in contact with, it’s safe to assume they could potentially have a negative affect on your computer.

So if hard-drives are susceptible to an internal magnetic source, it should also be affected by an external one, right? Right and wrong.
The effects of a basic magnet on a computer will be next to none. However, should you expose your computer to a strong enough magnetic force, it is very possible that things will go haywire.

Magnets to keep your computer away from

If you want to keep your computer safe, just stay away from electro-magnets, and you’ll be fine.

These types of magnets require the use of electrical currents to create the magnetic field, and the most common types require an external power source, making these magnets some of the strongest out there.

Check out this video on electro magnets!

The verdict: How harmful can a magnet be on a computer?

So is the theory right?

Well, a large and strong enough magnet has the ability to instantly wipe out an operating system and every file stored on the computer. But a simple, everyday magnet is safe around your computer.

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