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Speaking from personal experience, a large magnet won't do anything. If you want to _physically_ destroy the drive, hitting it with a hammer won't do it, either; you need to physically damage the drive platters inside.
My suggestion- drill through the case a couple of times. Most everything is made of aluminum, so it's fairly easy to get through with a standard cordless drill and, say, a 1/4" bit.
Otherwise, you could get the screwdrivers you need (usually a T-5 or-6, maybe a small hex head, sometimes a small Phillips. Take a close look at the screws holding the case together.) and take the thing apart. Interesting, educational, and the drive platters are pretty! I use them in my artwork. Once they're out of the case they're pretty useless informationally.
Indeed magnets will kill a hard drive, such as the one in your iphone used to hold your music, as it uses magnetic impulses to make
the Binary 1/0 on the disk platter. Passing a magnet over a hard drive will disrupt this data,
and make the disk unreadable.
While many hard drives in computers/laptops have magnetic shields to prevent this from happening... the itouch does not.
Hello, I assume that this is a FireWire external drive. Do you have any other FireWire devices (another drive, older iPod, etc) that you can test the port with? If other devices work, then the port on the drive has malfunctioned, or the drive needs repair (try Disk Warrior or First Aid in Disw Utility within OS X Applications...Utilities). If those other devices don't work either, then the port on the computer may be the problem (meaning logic board). You can also try creating another user in OS X, and testing the ports and the drive under that user. If all is well as another user, then you may have a software issue in your own user account.