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Old 05-06-2010, 10:19 AM   #1
kapoli
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Lightbulb How to properly and entirely erase a SSD

What is the best way to erase all the contents of a SSD?

For example, if I want to erase everything on my SSD (Intel X25-M 80 GB G2) and do a fresh Windows installation, can I just format the SSD in Windows Setup, or should I use an external program? For any purpose in general, what is the best way to erase a SSD completely and restore it to its factory state and level of performance?

I've heard that HDDerase is a good way of doing this. But version 3.3 seems compatible with the X25-M whereas version 4 is not? I'm confused. Can someone explain?

Thanks
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:20 AM   #2
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im trying to find out the same thing.hopefully someone can tell us.
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:44 AM   #3
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If you are just going to reinstall windows then delete the partition and make a new one.
All you are doing when you use things like HDD erase programs is adding more wear to the drive.
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:53 AM   #4
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Secure erase the drive. Then do whatever you want.

Secure erase can be found on ultimate boot disk
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:12 AM   #5
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Both secure erase and writing zeros increase wear, but if do this once and not regularly like in your case, it's fine. Secure erase is complete and fast (within a few minutes or a matter of seconds), but sometimes things go wrong like twice in my case.

In both cases, the drive was locked. A secure erase requires the hard drive password to be changed and for some reason, it didn't reset to blank properly and in one case, entering the password I specified didn't unlock the drive and that ended up being RMAed. Oh well...

It could be either the program I used (hddparam), a bug in the drive's firmware, or just my fault fat fingering a command. From now on though, since the wear is pretty much the same, I just write zeros using the regular Vista/7 format. Just uncheck the 'quick format' checkbox.

Last edited by razel; 05-06-2010 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunburn74 View Post
Secure erase the drive. Then do whatever you want.

Secure erase can be found on ultimate boot disk
What's the ultimate boot disk?
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razel View Post
Both secure erase and writing zeros increase wear, but if you only do this only one and not regularly like in your case, it's fine. Secure erase is complete and fast (within a few minutes or a matter of seconds), but sometimes things go wrong like twice in my case.

In both cases, the drive was locked. A secure erase requires the hard drive password to be changed and for some reason, it didn't reset to blank properly and in one case, entering the password I specified didn't unlock the drive and that ended up being RMAed. Oh well...
How do you set a password on the hard drive as you mentioned?
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapoli View Post
How do you set a password on the hard drive as you mentioned?
It's done through the hddparam program I used. You have to specify it. I'm not sure if other secure-erase programs allow you to specify the password or if it generates one or uses a common one like 'password', but it is required for secure-erase to run.
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapoli View Post
What's the ultimate boot disk?
Google is your friend.

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

And so is Ultimate Boot CD.
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:35 PM   #10
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Well that was way too early in the morning for me, I just re-read your OP. You're doing a reinstall, I thought you were selling it. Don't bother secure-erasing or writing zeros, just install, like modelworks mentioned.

During the install, if you are not sure if your old partition was aligned, then delete it and let Windows create new ones. Win 7 will create two, one recovery, one OS. If you only want one, delete the 2nd one, then extend the 1st one over the entire disk.

Last edited by razel; 05-06-2010 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razel View Post
Both secure erase and writing zeros increase wear, but if do this once and not regularly like in your case, it's fine. Secure erase is complete and fast (within a few minutes or a matter of seconds), but sometimes things go wrong like twice in my case.
Wouldn't secure erase on an SSD actually decrease wear? (I am talking about triggering the drive internal secure erase mechanism, not about writing 0s to all of it)

Secure erasing an SSD marks all pages in the drive's table as "deleted data", and might also physically delete the data (I am not sure) thus when you write new data to that location the drive doesn't have to keep that data (writing the junk data again and again until its own virtual address is used to write something... this is the whole point for TRIM BTW).

Secure erase is the equivalent of TRIMing the whole drive, and it would decreasing the total amount of wear compared to simply reinstalling. (which is insignificant anyways)
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taltamir View Post
Wouldn't secure erase on an SSD actually decrease wear? (I am talking about triggering the drive internal secure erase mechanism, not about writing 0s to all of it)

Secure erasing an SSD marks all pages in the drive's table as "deleted data", and might also physically delete the data (I am not sure) thus when you write new data to that location the drive doesn't have to keep that data (writing the junk data again and again until its own virtual address is used to write something... this is the whole point for TRIM BTW).
Pretty much.

A 'secure erase' restores an SSD to factory settings. It runs an erase on the entire flash. Because SSDs have a lot of spare flash, simply filling the drive with zeros using a conventional drive wipe program, will not erase the whole flash. A determined spy could still read the unerased data directly off the flash chips with a dedicated circuit probe.

Additionally, writing zeros to the drive would degrade the performance of the drive, as the drive controller, has no way of knowing that the zeros are junk, and would have to preserve them, by moving them around the flash - increasing flash wear and decreasing drive life time. A secure erase actually tells the drive controller that the entire drive is empty, and it doesn't need to waste time and flash life time, shuffling data around.
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Old 05-06-2010, 02:18 PM   #13
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There are caveats to both methods. My recommendation for zero-ing was based on my understanding that he was going to sell. Thereforce zero-ing once during your ownership is not out of the ordinary or excessive. As for secure-erase, feel free do to so, but know that even while being careful, things can go wrong and because secure-erase is something that the average person won't do, warranty may not be honored. In my case, Kingston understood and was very generous about it.
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Old 05-06-2010, 02:59 PM   #14
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so which is better for reinstalling the OS?secure erase or just delete during reinstall?
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:02 PM   #15
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If you're not sure the partition is aligned, delete during reinstall.
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Old 05-06-2010, 04:25 PM   #16
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well i plan on just making the whole 128GB SSD a partition.so will that align it?
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Old 05-06-2010, 05:28 PM   #17
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The following bit of advice is very much second hand knowledge I am just going to parrot:
I am told that in an SSD a state of 1 is no charge (aka, erased)... 11 for MLC. While 0 is a charge. (in MLC, 01, 10, and 00 are all different specific charges, compared to 11 which is no charge).
This supposedly means that writing 11s physically erases the cells... however, the "1"s are still shuffled around alongside actual data for a very long time unless you actually clear the drive. The process itself is very intensive, you tell the drive to write 4kb of 1 in a row, it will read off the 512kb erase sector it is going to write it to, erase the whole thing, then write back the new 4kb and the other 508kb of junk that was on there before. (repeat until done).

Anyways, if you HAVE to "zero" an SSD instead of using its build in secure erase function, use a program that writes all 1s instead of all 0s as it will be much better for your SSD.

Quote:
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well i plan on just making the whole 128GB SSD a partition.so will that align it?
Every time you create a partition it has to be aligned to SOMETHING... Aligning it in a non ideal manner will cause extra writes, and significant slowdowns. That is true for SSD and spindle drives. There have been various cases of alignment issues in the past with spindle drives, and there are now alignment issues with 4kb sector drives (the new "Advanced format drives" which are required to go over 2TB).

Whether the partition you create is aligned correctly (in cases where you do not manually specify the alignment) depends entirely on whether the program you are using to create it recognizes your drive and utilizes the proper alignment configuration for it.

SSDs formatted by windows XP ARE aligned... they are just aligned incorrectly for an SSD (it doesn't know any better).

I don't remember about windows vista, but I know windows 7 will recognize an SSD and align it correctly.
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Old 05-06-2010, 06:04 PM   #18
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ok thanks.ill be installing windows 7 and when i do the install
i will just let windows 7 create my partition by clicking the C
button and when it shows the full amount i can use of my 128GB
drive i will just select that size and then install windows 7.
thank you guys for your help.
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:02 PM   #19
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How do you access / use the SSD's built in secure erase? For an Intel G2? For an OCZ Vertex?
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:46 PM   #20
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http://www.markc.me.uk/MarkC/Blog/En...ng_an_SSD.html
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:59 PM   #21
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Interesting. So you need a 3rd party utility to use the drive's own secure erase utility. Does this HDDErase utility know how to work with BOTH Intel's and OCZ's SSD secure erase utility?
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsLNdbOi View Post
Interesting. So you need a 3rd party utility to use the drive's own secure erase utility. Does this HDDErase utility know how to work with BOTH Intel's and OCZ's SSD secure erase utility?
Secure erase exists on spindle drives too... it should be a standard command that any program can initiate, it informs the controller to eliminate ALL data on the drive.
with a spindle drive, it should result in the controller writing 0s to the entire drive.
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:34 AM   #23
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So using something like HDDErase to tell the drive to use its built in secure erase is better or safer than using something like DBAN?
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:47 AM   #24
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DBAN should be really bad for an SSD.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBAN

the guy before said he had some SSDs fail on him permanently when activating their secure erase with a HDD password (I remember intel actually having a bug in initial firmware that bricked drives with a password, but it was fixed, I also don't know if his drive is intel or not)...

But if you didn't set a password then this shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:09 AM   #25
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When using HDDErase I noticed there were two or three "options" for the erase procedure.

Does anyone know the difference between the options?
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