Secure erase SSD alternatives? (not able through manufacturer software)


ddiaconu21

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Hi guys,

So I'm currently having some issues with my 2 SSD drives (one external Samsung T5 SSD and one Intel SSD 600p Series SSDPEKKW256G7).

1. Samsung T5 SSD can't be secure erased from Samsung Magician because it's done via USB and it's not a internal SSD.
2. The Intel SSD can't be secure erased because it's the main SSD (Intel isn't allowing it) and Windows 8/10 don't accept secure erase. (more info here: Securely Erase Data on Intel® Solid State Drives That Needs...)

Is diskpart/dban a good alternative for "secure erase"? As far as I know, secure erase between HDD and SSD is fairly different and methods like diskpart/dban aren't that efficient and sometimes do more bad than good (overwriting an SSD overuses it for no constructive reason). What other choice do I have beside the proprietary software that is not working in my case?

Context: I want to have a clean start for my laptop and external SSD (or as fresh as possible in this case). This actually started by trying to figure out on how to use my T5 SSD with both my Mac Mini and my laptop and since I had to format, I thought I should do a deep cleaning (I had a lot of useless/random files written over time, including running Linux on it). Not planning on selling them or hiding my secret CIA/FBI/NSA folder.

Thanks!
 
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jimbo45

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Hi there
simply write X'00' (HEX zero) on every physical address (cluster etc) .

Plenty of free software around to do that.

You could even use a standard "Hex editor" to erase data areas where you have data you want to erase. (Takes longer though).


Cheers
jimbo
 

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bobkn

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Courtesy of our friends at Google: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/securely-erase-ssd-without-destroying/

It's not the clearest article I've read. It claims that an SSD can be securely erased without overwriting it, but one method (Parted Magic) is said to write zeroes. For the truly paranoid, an SSD may pose concerns because of the way its data are managed.

Regardless, I wouldn't be concerned about the amount of wear done by a single write. The Intel SSDPEKKW256G7 is rated at 144 TBW, which means its expected life is equivalent to writing the 256GB drive over 560 times. Even a multi-pass write wouldn't be significant unless you do it many times.
 

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ddiaconu21

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Courtesy of our friends at Google: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/securely-erase-ssd-without-destroying/

It's not the clearest article I've read. It claims that an SSD can be securely erased without overwriting it, but one method (Parted Magic) is said to write zeroes. For the truly paranoid, an SSD may pose concerns because of the way its data are managed.

Regardless, I wouldn't be concerned about the amount of wear done by a single write. The Intel SSDPEKKW256G7 is rated at 144 TBW, which means its expected life is equivalent to writing the 256GB drive over 560 times. Even a multi-pass write wouldn't be significant unless you do it many times.
Thank you for the elaborate answer.
Now my question is: what separates Parted Magic from stuff like diskpart?
 

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bobkn

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Thank you for the elaborate answer.
Now my question is: what separates Parted Magic from stuff like diskpart?
I'm not the best person to answer this, but...

diskpart seems to have no ability to over-write the disk, so it cannot do a secure erase.
 

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ddiaconu21

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Hi guys,

As a wrap up, Parted Magic worked on my internal NVMe (secure erase), but there external SSD/USB storages can't be securely erased due to them not being connected directly to the internals (just through USB).

It seems there is no proper secure erase option for portable storage.
Thanks!
 

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Mark Phelps

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Hi guys,

So I'm currently having some issues with my 2 SSD drives (one external Samsung T5 SSD and one Intel SSD 600p Series SSDPEKKW256G7).

1. Samsung T5 SSD can't be secure erased from Samsung Magician because it's done via USB and it's not a internal SSD.

Thanks!
I have a Samsung SSD and Magician and it allowed me to create a USB stick I could use to do a secure erase. It worked fine.
 

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bobkn

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This is an external SSD
Then, you don't need a bootable utility.

Does the secure erase feature in the free version of CCleaner work for you? CCleaner Makes Your Computer Faster & More Secure | Official Website

(Caution: CCleaner is now owned by Avast, and their installer sometimes tries to install Avast products. If you don't want them, you have to opt out. The default is to install the Avast stuff. They don't obscure the choices, but inattentive clicking may give you something that you don't want.)
 

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barman58

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What is secure? if you wish to stop a parent or sibling from reading your digital diary then there are many ways such as have been noted. If however you want to protect data from professional recovery or Government agencies Law enforcement then the only way is total physical destruction of the media.

Overwritten drives are recovered all the time by the pros and many a business have been very grateful even though the cost is great for these services
 

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Hazel123

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I’ve used parted magic for secure erase many times. It’s quick and easy and it will tell you if secure erase is enabled on the drive. It may say the drive is frozen - you follow instructions to unfreeze it ( in the article above?) and then choose secure erase for an ssd. Internal erase. Writing zeros to an ssd (external erase) isn’t recommended - wear to the drive and also it could leave data behind. Secure erase is inbuilt into the drive snd it just flashes the drive to reset everything so no data left - it takes minutes. If it’s an hdd you can just select to write zeros to the drive - which takes a lot longer.

You download the iso of parted magic, burn it to a usb and then boot from it. It runs live.
 

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Hazel123

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Make absolutely sure you select the correct drive to erase! The external one.
 

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jimbo45

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Hi folks
Write X´00´ or anything random to every data area on device multiple times, ideally on every physical adressable sector or however the disk geometry is defined -- even F.B.I couldn't untangle it then.

I think this bit of code in python should give you an idea -- backup any data before messing around though.
Not quite "impregnable " but I'm sure people who have vastly more coding experience than me could do it. I don't mess around with much coding these days but python is my preferred coding language when I have a go at it as it's portable between most OS'es. This is a start -- you might want to change the code to physical sectors for the writes. The addressing scheme of the HDD / SSD depends on the actual disk geometry rather than the specific file sysem used.

def secure_delete(path, random_fill=True, null_fill=True, passes=3):
"""
securely delete a file by passing it through both random and null filling
"""
files = os.listdir(path)
for i, f in enumerate(files):
files = "{}/{}".format(path, f)
for item in files:
with open(item, "wr") as data:
length = data.tell()
if random_fill:
for _ in xrange(passes):
data.seek(0)
data.write(os.urandom(length))
if null_fill:
for _ in xrange(passes):
data.seek(0)
data.write("\x00" * length)
os.remove(item)


However the only 100% safe way is physical destruction of the device.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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Hazel123

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I think terminology can be confusing as well - securely erasing data from a drive is not the same thing as “secure erase” - which is a command

“Secure Erase

Secure Erase is the name given to a set of commands available from the firmware on PATA and SATA based hard drives (it isn't available on SCSI drives).


Using Secure Erase to erase the data from a hard drive is often considered the best way to do so because the action is accomplished from the drive itself, the same hardware that wrote the data in the first place. Other methods of removing data from a hard drive may be less effective because they rely on more standard ways of overwriting it.”

So either an ssd or hdd may have the secure erase function built into the drive. I think all but much older ssd’s do.

So in parted magic you would select “internal “ erase and the secure erase option (which is the only option for “internal erasing”.

If it’s not an ssd you can select external erase and it gives you a choice of methods - writing zeros to the drive, the same but with three passes and other erasing software (all do similar).

I did secure erase three times on an ssd last time - just to be sure. If you want to be really belt and braces you could do the secure erase command -AND external “wiping “ by writing zeros to the disk - but filling the drives with zeros with an ssd could shorten the life due to the number of writes. Also it there would be gaps between the zeros so it’s not enough on its own with an ssd.



 

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