Erasing an SSD Securely – How to Erase an SSD Drive

By | September 8, 2012

Performing a secure erase SSD poses a problem for many people. SSD stands for Solid State Drive or a Solid State Disk. SSD memory is composed of integrated circuits for non volatile storage of data. Traditional magnetic drives use read/write heads for storing data but an SSD has no mechanical components. Hence it is faster and has a lower access time but at a higher price.

SSDs have an interface compatible with the block input / output (I/O) hard drives. So replacement is done easily. The NAND based flash memory is a common technology employed in most SSDs. This makes them capable of retaining data even when power is switched off.  A few SSDs also use the Random Access Memory (RAM) for storage. These loose data when power is turned off. However, if a battery is used with such an SSD, then data is preserved.

The data storage technology used in SSD is more complex and non – linear when compared to hard drives. Internal operation varies with each manufacturer. Also data is stored in different virtual and physical locations. This also makes it difficult to erase the drive. The most effective way of erasing SSD securely is to use the ATA Secure Erase Command. This can be done through two applications called Parted Magic and Secure Erase (HDDErase.exe).

Secure Erase is a free application. The disadvantage is that it uses the DOS operating system. Another issue with this is that further versions have not been released after 2008. This makes it incompatible with the latest models of SSD.

The second method to secure erase SSD is Parted Magic. It is fairly simple to use and has no compatibility issues with modern drives. The steps have been outlined below.

  1. Download Parted Magic and UNetbootin from the following links

  1. Extract Parted Magic from the ISO file. This can be done through MagicISO or WinRar.
  2. Run the UNetbootin program.
  3. Select ‘Diskimage’ instead of ‘Distribution’ by clicking on the radio button. Set the path to the ISO file. Change the type to SSD or flash drive and select the correct drive letter. Click OK to install.
  4. When the installation is complete, options will be displayed to reboot or exit. Select reboot to boot into with Parted Magic. This has created a different bootable media. The required size for this is 1GB.
  5. Connect the SSD drive and power on the computer
  6. Select the ‘Default Settings’ option in the boot menu.
  7. The Parted Magic Desktop should now be displayed.
  8. Select ‘Erase Disk’ from the System Tools menu.
  9. Choose the ‘Internal: Secure Erase command writes zeroes to entire data area’ option and press Continue.
  10. Select the SS drive to be erased.
  11. The program will ask for a password. If you don’t want one, type NULL. Click ok. A caution message will be displayed. Press Yes to continue.
  12. A dialog box will appear when the process has been completed. Click Close.

Follow these steps to ensure secure erase SSD is done.