Secure HDD Erasing: UCSD/CMRR

Discussion in 'Computer Help' started by Bubbaleone, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Bubbaleone

    Bubbaleone Golden Member

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    These forums: Computer Help, and Software for Windows are regularly requested to give advice on how to securely erase a hard drive. I've replied to these querys and have also read, and agreed with, the knowledgeable replies by many other AnandTech members.

    Ok,...I have been "securely" erasing HDDs for years. I've always used accepted, mainstream, disk-level, 3rd-party software for this purpose. However, after thoroughly reading all the research documentation done by UCSD/CMRR, I've reached the conclusion that a great deal of what I thought I knew on this subject is, at best, faulty.

    It's faulty because I'd accepted, and believed, that both the information freely distributed by software manufacturers promoting their products, and the articles by and proclamations of "experts in the field", which have saturated the web for many years, were the truth...the facts...and nothing but the facts. I'm no longer a believer.

    I think if you read for yourself what UCSD/CMRR actually does, who they do it for, and their role in international HDD design implementations, you may well reach the same conclusion. I don't claim to be an "expert" at anything. However, if anyone is an "expert" on this topic, these guys really are.

    University of California, San Diego
    Center for Magnetic Recording Research

    Former and Current Sponsors
    Website
    Tutorial on Disk Drive Data Sanitization

    This quote is from the last page of the tutorial:

     
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  3. Matt1970

    Matt1970 Lifer

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    I think you are reading too far into it. You can read for days on end of different theories and methods and real world tests. Keep in mind, it is still a magnet writing and reading data in physical drives. Once it is overwritten it is extremely hard to recover any data.
     
  4. Bubbaleone

    Bubbaleone Golden Member

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    Obviously you didn't bother to actually visit UCSD/CMRR's website and read anything, or examine the freeware erasing utility they offer, which is all I suggested in my post:

    I believe all of the following companies, who sponsor and rely upon the scientific research done by USCD/CMRR, would disagree with your statement:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. denis280

    denis280 Diamond Member

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    the fact is. you cant erase a hd completely.
     
  6. Matt1970

    Matt1970 Lifer

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    As per the Q&A on the CMRR website.

    Q: Is any data left after a secure erase?

    A: Investigations at CMRR at UCSD have shown that a single pass secure erase at lower frequencies results in no remaining data signals and a second erase reduces this signal only slightly more. The resulting data signal to noise ratio (SNR) at the magnetic drive head is below that required to recover data using a disk drive channel . The only recorded signal left in these experiments is a small amount of highly distorted track edge recording which is extremely difficult to recover data from even if the disk is removed from the drive and tested on a spin-stand.
     
  7. Bubbaleone

    Bubbaleone Golden Member

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    That information is correct only if the drive is erased using the "internal secure erase" feature. UCSD/CMRR was instrumental in the implementation of this built-in feature of HDDs manufactured since 2001.

    3rd-party erasing software, and manufacturer supplied format utilities do not access the password protected, built-in, secure erase feature. The freeware utility SECUREERASE, which is available on the UCSD/CMRR site, does unlock the password protected secure erase feature: Download Freeware Secure Erase Utility
     
    #6 Bubbaleone, Jan 25, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  8. Magic Carpet

    Magic Carpet Diamond Member

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    :) What about other than Intel ?
     
  9. Bubbaleone

    Bubbaleone Golden Member

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    If you're running SPARC, PowerPC, or any other non-IBM compatible computer, that doesn't natively support DiskOperatingSystem, then obviously you can't run this utility on those machines.

    However, disk drives aren't processor architecture dependent. SPARC, PowerPC, etc., use the same buses (PATA, SATA, SCSI, SAS, Fibre) that Intel based machines use. Meaning, that if you're running one of those systems and you'd like to use this utility to access the internal secure erase feature on your hard drive, you'll need to pull it out and hook it up to a PC.
     
    #8 Bubbaleone, Mar 13, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  10. Magic Carpet

    Magic Carpet Diamond Member

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    I just lol'ed at the fact, that IBM-PC hadn't been mentioned instead.
     
  11. Bubbaleone

    Bubbaleone Golden Member

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    I had to think on that a bit myself..LOL. "...Intel architecture computers (PCs)" I guess it's just the author's choice of wording... if it's a "PC" it's IBM compatible.