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Old 10-30-2012, 05:58 PM   #1
philipstratford
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Default Format SSD = Secure Erase?

After wasting an evening trying various things, I thought I'd just post here for (hopefully) a simple answer to this question!

I want to install a clean copy of Windows 7 on my Intel X25-M 80GB SSD. It's been my main, boot drive for a while. I'm aware that performance of this SSD degrades over time, and that a secure erase (using Intel's HDDERASE tool) can reset the blocks in the drive back to zero (can you tell I don't really understand this properly?) or reset it to its factory condition or whatever. So I'm trying to do that before I reinstall Windows.

However, I'm not having a lot of joy, and I just wondered if anyone here could tell me whether simply using the 'Format' tool in the Windows 7 installation process would have the same, total resetting effect.

Do I really need to keep working on trying to boot my PC to DOS so that I can run the HDDERASE tool (ludicrously difficult), or will just formatting the drive as part of the installation produce the same performance improvement?

Thanks!!
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:46 PM   #2
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Formatting won't restore the drive. You have to do a secure erase to get like-new performance again.

If you're having a hard time using the DOS tool, I suggest Parted Magic, a free linux disk utility with a graphic interface that you can install to a USB drive. It has secure erase support and has never failed me in wiping SSDs. You can prepare the flash drive very easily using the unetbootin tool (Google it).
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:14 PM   #3
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Quick format under Win7 will Trim the drive. I'm not sure if that's the case in the windows installer.

If your drive is a X25-M G2 then I wouldn't bother with secure erase. Just re-install windows, download Intel SSD Toolbox and run Intel SSD Optimiser from it. If your drive is G1 then doing secure erase would be a good idea.
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:16 PM   #4
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I just asked about this

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2278804


I am going to secure erase it with Parted Magic
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:38 PM   #5
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Intel SSD Toolbox is way too useful to ignore. Just use that dude, assuming you have another PC to plug into.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:35 AM   #6
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Given how impatient I am, I went ahead and just reinstalled Windows, formatting the drive as part of the install. I figured that Secure Erase probably wasn't going to give me any performance benefit, especially as the drive has only ever been running Windows 7, which uses TRIM, and I was formatting it.

Quote:
Formatting won't restore the drive. You have to do a secure erase to get like-new performance again.
Are you sure? What's the difference? Other people seem to be saying otherwise?

Quote:
I just asked about this

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2278804


I am going to secure erase it with Parted Magic
I've just read that whole thread, and after doing so I'm even more convinced that Secure Erase is unnecessary. I'm not quite sure how you've concluded that you should go ahead and do it!

The OS is still vanilla out of the box after the reinstall, so I don't really mind doing a Secure Erase and installing it again if I'm going to get a further performance boost, but I'm still not convinced that I would or that it would actually be any different to the format that I've already done.
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Old 10-31-2012, 12:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philipstratford View Post
Given how impatient I am, I went ahead and just reinstalled Windows, formatting the drive as part of the install. I figured that Secure Erase probably wasn't going to give me any performance benefit, especially as the drive has only ever been running Windows 7, which uses TRIM, and I was formatting it.


Are you sure? What's the difference? Other people seem to be saying otherwise?


I've just read that whole thread, and after doing so I'm even more convinced that Secure Erase is unnecessary. I'm not quite sure how you've concluded that you should go ahead and do it!

The OS is still vanilla out of the box after the reinstall, so I don't really mind doing a Secure Erase and installing it again if I'm going to get a further performance boost, but I'm still not convinced that I would or that it would actually be any different to the format that I've already done.
If the drive is currently performing well and has good GC/TRIM implementation, then securing erasing it probably won't make much of a difference. If the drive has been thoroughly used and doesn't have the the best GC/TRIM (e.g. gen. 1 Sandforce... dunno about Intel G2), then secure erasing the drive will give a noticeable performance improvement. Last time I did this with a gen. 1 Sandforce drive, my WEI went from 7.1 back to 7.7.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philipstratford View Post

I've just read that whole thread, and after doing so I'm even more convinced that Secure Erase is unnecessary. I'm not quite sure how you've concluded that you should go ahead and do it!

The OS is still vanilla out of the box after the reinstall, so I don't really mind doing a Secure Erase and installing it again if I'm going to get a further performance boost, but I'm still not convinced that I would or that it would actually be any different to the format that I've already done.
I understand your point, I have thought about that as well. But its just easier for me to just Secure Erase it and not have to think about it any more. Sure it uses up 1 P/E cycle but if it does do anything it will be worth it. If it doesn't do anything well then oh well lol.
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:08 AM   #9
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Point taken - it's still niggling me ever so slightly, even though my PC couldn't run much faster, so maybe I'll go ahead and do a Secure Erase anyway, just to remove any doubt!
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:28 AM   #10
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I used this on my old laptop I sold.
http://www.dban.org/

I recommend. You can find reviews. The point of it is that no one can access your old, even if deleted, files.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:43 AM   #11
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Thanks, I've actually used DBAN quite a bit at work. But I'm not concerned with destroying files securely so that they can't be accessed, exactly. I'm more interested in restoring the performance of the drive.
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