How can you securely erase an SSD?

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Erasing a solid state drive (SSD) can require some work. There are slightly different processes involved in securely erasing or "wiping" these kinds of drives, depending on their design and the setup of resident driver software.

Unlike magnetic drives, solid state drives cannot be erased using a degausser, a device that disrupts electronically stored magnetic information kept on conventional platter hard drives. Solid state drives have to be erased digitally, by overwriting the binary code that represents stored information.

One of the most common pieces of advice for securely erasing a solid state drive is to use specific third-party software tools that will effectively write a new pattern of binary information into all sectors of a drive. Specific software programs are made for small SSD drives in order to help users get existing data off of these devices to sell them, transfer them to other users or dispose of them.

Another option for securing data on SSDs is encryption. Unlike a secure erase or wipe, encryption keeps the data, but makes it inaccessible to anyone without the proper security information. That’s why some users might rely on encryption instead of a secure erase method.

According to various studies, it can be hard to figure out how to completely erase an SSD in a secure way. This can have to do with how a drive is designed, and how to target each area of the drive in order to effectively overwrite the stored information. Those who are trying to erase the drive also have to make sure that they have the right operating system or specifications for a particular tool, and that that erase program works the way it is supposed to. There are also issues with SSD drives that support a device operating system. In these cases, it can be hard to delete a drive because the operating system is in use, and applicable instructions can be much more elaborate.

Techopedia Staff

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