HOW DO YOU WIPE AN SSD DRIVE?
“How do you wipe an SSD drive” is a common internet search these days, ranking alongside queries such as “How do you erase a hard drive?”, “How do I wipe my hard drive clean without a disk?”, and “How do you scan your hard drive for viruses?”
NAND-based flash storage is increasingly becoming popular due to the superior benefits it offers over magnetic discs, but how do you wipe an SSD drive at the end of its life cycle?
For all their benefits, SSDs can present some unusual problems when it comes to securely sanitize them at the time of decommissioning. To begin with, none of the proven and widely used hard drive data wiping techniques are effective on SDDs. This makes the process of securely wiping an SSD is a whole new ball game.
Before we highlight a couple of trusted and secure techniques for wiping SSDs, it’s important to understand a few unique characteristics of SSD data storage and why they present sanitization issues.
Unique Characteristics of SSDs
One of the biggest advantages of NAND flash storage is the ability to retain data without being powered up (hence the reference non-volatile memory). However, this benefit comes at the cost of a limited lifetime. In other words, NAND flash memory can be written to only a finite number of times because it wears out over time. What’s more, the flash wears out unevenly, causing some parts to wear out faster than others.
To circumvent this problem, SSDs employ wear-leveling algorithms to try to prolong their lifespan. The SSD continually moves data across the drive to ensure that the different areas of the flash chip wear out uniformly.
As such, using traditional wiping techniques to overwrite a specific block over countless times doesn’t necessarily work here because the SSD writes all fresh incoming data to different blocks spread across the drive. Employing hard drive wiping techniques on SSDs may, in fact, harm them.
Secure Methods For Wiping SSDs
Built-in Purge Functionality
A number of SSDs now come with built-in purge functionality. Basically, the purge feature restores the drive’s original state as at the time of manufacture, essentially wiping all the data. If your solid-state drives hold non-sensitive data, the built-in purge functionality is a sufficient method of wiping the drive. Otherwise – when wondering how do you wipe an SSD drive – you might want to try another foolproof method.
In classic hard drive disposition, one of the most commonly used wiping techniques is repeated overwrite. In this technique, a special program is used to overwrite parts of the drive (or the entire drive) with a series of patterns repeatedly.
Overwrite techniques can also be used to wipe SSDs through the use of IO commands to overwrite every individual block on the drive. That being said, this wiping method gives poor results in SSDs so it should not be solely relied on.
Hard Drive Shredding is a technique that’s highly relied on for complete hard drive data destruction. However, for SSDs, a typical hard drive shredder may not be sufficient to totally wipe the data from existence. Integrated circuit (IC) chips on SSDs can remain intact after shredding, which means the data they hold can still be recovered.
Most SSDs encrypt data by default as a security measure. As such, one technique to sanitize the drive is to alter the encryption and decryption key used on the data. However, if not properly implemented, the data on the drive remains vulnerable. It may also not be possible to verify whether the drive has been wiped.
So How Do You Wipe An SSD Drive?
As data protection laws get increasingly tighter, secure disposal of data is now more critical than ever before. The best way to ensure compliance and eliminate any risks is by entrusting a professional data destruction service with your SSD destruction needs.
When you have sensitive data held on decommissioned SSDs and you’re wondering how do you wipe an SSD drive, you need a proven and trusted SSD erasure solution that only a proven professional service can guarantee.
Have you ever tried wiping an SSD drive yourself? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments below.
HARD DRIVE DESTRUCTION FAQs
Why is Proper Destruction of Data on SSDs Essential, and What Risks are Involved if Not Done Correctly?
Proper destruction of data on SSDs is crucial to prevent unauthorized access and misuse of sensitive information. If not done correctly, organizations risk data breaches, identity theft, financial loss, and damage to reputation. Adherence to secure destruction methods is vital to mitigate these risks and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.
Compliance with standards such as NIST 800-88 and GDPR ensures that data destruction processes meet specific guidelines and best practices. These standards set forth criteria for secure deletion, making data irretrievable. Adherence to these standards provides assurance of the security and integrity of the data destruction process, protecting against potential vulnerabilities.
What are the Differences and Benefits Between Physical and Software-Based Data Destruction Methods for SSDs?
Physical data destruction methods, like shredding and crushing, render SSDs physically unusable, ensuring data is completely irretrievable. Software-based methods involve overwriting the data, making it inaccessible. Both methods have their benefits; physical destruction provides immediate and visible assurance, while software-based methods allow for the potential reuse of the storage medium.
On-site data destruction allows clients to observe the process firsthand, ensuring that data is handled and destroyed securely. This direct oversight increases transparency, builds trust, and provides immediate assurance that sensitive information has been securely disposed of, mitigating the risk of data breaches.
Adhering to international and federal standards is essential to maintain the trust of stakeholders, avoid legal penalties, and ensure secure handling of sensitive data. Compliance demonstrates a commitment to data security and privacy, aligning with industry best practices and regulatory requirements, thereby safeguarding organizational reputation.
Secure facilities with controlled access and 24/7 monitoring, coupled with background-checked personnel, create a fortified environment for data handling. These measures significantly reduce the risk of internal and external threats, ensuring that sensitive data is managed and destroyed with the highest level of security and integrity.
Environmental responsibility is maintained by employing eco-friendly disposal methods and recycling the remnants post-destruction. A commitment to zero landfill ensures that the process minimizes environmental impact, aligning with sustainability goals and responsible business practices.
A wide range of organizations, especially those handling sensitive or classified information, benefit from professional data destruction services. Government agencies, defense contractors, healthcare, financial, technology, and legal sectors, among others, require secure data destruction to protect against data breaches and comply with regulatory requirements.
Why is Maintaining a Chain of Custody and Offering Real-Time Tracking Essential in Data Destruction?
A maintained chain of custody and real-time tracking are essential to ensure the security and integrity of the data from collection to destruction. These measures provide a transparent and traceable record of the data handling process, offering clients assurance that their sensitive information is managed securely and responsibly.
Clients can confirm compliance and effectiveness through certificates of destruction, third-party verification, and audit trails. These documents provide formal evidence of secure and compliant data destruction, offering assurance and peace of mind that sensitive information has been handled and disposed of appropriately.
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