Securely erase a solid-state drive

Secure drive erasure is the process of erasing all or part of a storage device so that the data it contained is difficult or impossible to recover. Standard methods of secure drive erasure do not work with solid-state drives (SSDs); for alternative methods, see below.

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Securely erase a solid-state drive

To securely erase data, hard disk drives fill the occupied space on the drive with a file consisting of zeroes or execute multiple writes of different characters; for more, see Securely wipe disk drives. However, solid-state drives use wear-leveling algorithms that evenly distribute data among SSD blocks, which means that data is constantly moved around on the drive so the blocks will be worn at an equal rate. Standard secure deletion tools damage SSDs by performing an unnecessary number of additional writes without being able to tell where the data is written.

To securely erase data from a solid-state drive, use one of the following methods:

  • Manufacturer-specific software

    If possible, use software provided by the manufacturer of the drive to erase an SSD. Many manufacturers offer software that allows for securely erasing the drive, as well as other functions such as updating firmware or checking the health of the drive. Use the instructions provided by the manufacturer to erase the SSD.

    The following manufacturers provide software to securely erase an SSD:

    If you cannot locate the manufacturer of your SSD, or if the manufacturer does not provide software for securely erasing the drive, you can try using a generic utility:

  • Encryption

    Many recently introduced SSDs encrypt data by default. In such cases, you may be able to quickly sanitize the device by deleting the encryption key, which renders the data on the drive irretrievable. Contact the drive manufacturer to see if this option is available and enabled.

  • Physical destruction

    If the above methods fail and the data absolutely must be made irretrievable, physically destroy the drive.

Verify that the drive has been securely erased

Use data recovery software to verify that the SSD no longer contains data. A number of data recovery software packages are available, ranging from freeware to commercial software products. PartedMagic and GParted (listed above) include recovery options.

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Last modified on 2021-05-06 15:22:00.