Tales abound of how best to destroy a hard drive. Some organisations remove the disk platters' magnetic coating with a power-sander, others use high-powered metal shredders, and PCs used on military operations may have explosive charges built in to prevent their analysis after capture.

Now a company called Verity Systems has come up with its own version - a hand-cranked press that actually bends an entire hard drive through almost 90 degrees in just 15 seconds. The company claimed that it will bend the platters and circuit board, and also damage the heads and motor.

Called the VS7000 Hard Drive Destroyer, the device is about the size of a small tower PC - but with a large handle on the side. It weighs a chunky 32kg, making it just about portable.

The drive to be destroyed goes in the front. Swappable height adaptors allow it to bend different sizes of drive, from 0.65 inch to laptop and desktop units.

Gearing plus a ratchet mechanism ensures that even rugged drives will bend with relatively little effort, but there's also an electrically-powered version of the machine for the weak-wristed.

Verity has formerly specialised in data-wiping technology such as degaussers, but according to sales manager Andy Page, wiping the medium is not enough for some customers.

"The only sure way to make sure your hard drive's data won't get into the wrong hands is to physically destroy the drive, and the VS7000 offers visible proof that the hard drive is destroyed," he said.

The downside is that, even without an electric motor, the VS7000 costs a shade under £3,000. That's rather expensive compared to a sledgehammer - even once you've added the cost of a few pairs of shin-guards and safety glasses to counter the risk of flying drive fragments.