Performing a secure erase on your solid state drive (SSD) is relatively simple when done with the necessary software. Securely erasing an SSD largely depends on the type of drive and other factors, such as the age of the driver.
An SSD can only be written to a limited number of times, which makes it difficult to clean it thoroughly. It is possible to damage the SSD using a standard tool. And because your SSD is a crucial part of your computer, you should approach this task with caution. If you don't, you run the risk of damaging your hard drive or losing important data.
Luckily, in this article, you can find instructions on how to securely erase an SSD drive without losing data or damaging your drive.
How to Securely Erase an SSD Drive
The formatting process may be familiar to most people who have worked with hard drives or new solid state drives. But why can't you just reformat your SSD? There is one key difference between formatting and secure erase methods, and that is completeness.
In most cases, formatting a disk is used to make a new one work. The best approach to ensure that your PC will work with your new hard drive is to format it before installing the operating system.
Most data recovery programs can still recover bits and pieces of data. Therefore, you are not erasing the drive. This is why reselling or recycling formatted items is not the best option.
So, to completely erase an SSD securely, there are several different methods.
BIOS / UEFI
A secure erase is not a typical BIOS/UEFI feature on most systems. However, a relatively stock motherboard or familiarity with the device interface can make this option viable.
If you have a gaming PC, you might be in luck as it is more likely to provide additional choices for better component management.
Chances are the procedure will go smoothly if your computer's bios or UEFI supports it. It's best to consult your user guide if you're using anything other than a basic setup. An SSD can be safely erased by following these steps:
- Enter your computer's BIOS or UEFI settings.
- Locate and choose your SSD. Whether it's in the device index or another tab is entirely up to your manufacturer's interface settings.
- Look for a Data Wipe or Secure Erase option. Keep an eye out for alternate keywords as some programs go by multiple names.
- Follow any relevant prompts or instructions that may appear during the secure erase or erase operation.
In terms of driver management, most customers choose to use either their own manufacturer's software or a third-party choice. Identifying your device's specifications and finding driver support on the manufacturer's site are good places to start.
An increasing variety of third-party solutions are becoming available as SSDs become more widespread. Most major manufacturers also offer erasure solutions. It is recommended to use the latest software from your device manufacturers if possible.
Before you begin the erasing process, take the time to learn about your drive's specifications and whether the software you're considering is compatible. That said, it's also essential that you back up any data you might be interested in, as the secure erase features are meant to be comprehensive. In other words, assuming everything goes as planned, all erased data will be completely unrecoverable.
Here are some of the most popular software to securely erase SSD drive.
Intel Solid-State Drive Toolkit
If you have an Intel SSD, the Intel Solid-State Drive Toolkit is a must-have tool for Windows users. The “Secure Erase” tab is on the left side of the main program screen. Select "Secure Erase" and follow the on-screen instructions.
Some applications, such as Intel SSD Toolbox, can safely optimize your drive for better performance with TRIM capability and growing technology. Just as you can choose the schedule for other PC upgrades, you can do the same for your drive optimizer.
Intel SSD Toolbox's extensive support options are another bonus. Installation instructions, warranty information, and step-by-step advice on a wide range of common maintenance issues are all included in this manual. In general, SSDs from Intel are convenient and easy to use.
GParted or GNOME Partition Editor is a well-known and trustworthy software. It includes several disk functions, like the recently added partition administration. For Linux SSD users, this is a great solution because it's open source and works with a wide range of operating systems.
To get the most out of GParted, you'll need to boot from disk instead of the internet. A "Live CD" or "Live USB" must be created, then the application can be loaded using any physical media supported by your computer.
Due to the difficulty of configuring GParted, several helpful articles, user reviews, and instructions are available online.
Samsung Wizard may be a bit easier to use for those new to the process. Even if your screen contains a little more information than you need, the clean design keeps things from getting too cluttered. This program can also help you diagnose problems and monitor your drive's health if you're looking to extend the life of your device.
Although Samsung does not provide special support for the Magician tool, a more current and user-friendly interface is beneficial in this scenario. However, their SSD webpage has a wealth of other software information.
Partition management and disk wiping tools are included in a comprehensive Linux distribution called Separate Magic. Although you have to pay a fee to use it, you will still have access to the suite and can safely remove an SSD with it.
Parted Magic can be installed on a USB drive and used to boot a computer. To start, here is a brief overview:
- Configure a USB device that can be mounted with the program.
- Log in to the device and restart it.
- When the player restarts, select "Option 1", then "Default Settings".
- Go to "Start" at the bottom left, then "System Tools".
- Go to "Erase Disk" once the computer has started.
- Choose the internal option. You must first validate the disk you wish to erase before using the "Secure Erase command", which writes a string of zeros throughout the data area. It is necessary to press the "Standby button" several times until you can continue if you are told that the player is "frozen". If your player asks for a password, enter "NULL" as the answer.
- To remove your SSD, simply click "Yes" to confirm that you have read and understood the warnings.
The practical approach
The SSD can be destroyed with a hammer if the disk is dead or you just don't want a working drive in the end.
Consider that SSDs use small flash storage chips instead of platters to store their data; to securely delete the data, you need to break the chips. You need to remove the drive cover before you start swinging.
Have a clean SSD
If you follow any of these methods carefully and do your research, you'll have a clean SSD in no time. As a reminder, it is essential to keep in mind that older programs and outdated SSDs may be more sensitive than newer versions of these products. Since some older devices may not be compatible with newer software, you can seek expert help.
Additionally, it's crucial to back up any data you want to keep if your drive fails. If you forget something, chances are you won't be able to recover it using standard recovery software if you use a secure erase technique.
Have you ever erased an SSD? Have you ever had trouble erasing an SSD? Let us know in the comment section below!