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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Secure erase

355133836_f9075e699f_bFun (curious) fact: all recent (newer than 2006)  have ATA commands in them specifically for wiping the data off of them. There are at least two advantages to this method:

  • It wipes all sectors (including sectors marked as bad by the internal tables)
  • It is faster

You can get the program which initiates such a wipe at the CMRR (Center for Magnetic Recording Research) website.

Picture taken from steven m's photostream with permission.


  1. This fact is TRUE but due to hardware restrictions, Secure Erase can not be executed on most host PC's.

    Although Secure Erase is an excellent Purge level sanitization technology that is in fact embedded in to ALL Standards based ATA drives since 2001, many vendors of PC and other host hardware have inhibited the passing of the Secure Erase init commands to the drive bus due to concerns about the vulnerability of the process to malware, viruses, or intentional malicious damage. As once the process is started, the drive is locked until the process completes. Any legacy data remaining on the drive is typically inaccessible until SE is finished.

    This situation is why the commercial integration of SE has not occurred. It just can not be deployed reliably across all platforms.

    Additionally, the software published by the CMRR although operational, is more of a proof of concept application. The current version of hte HDDERASE.EXE will address the primary IDE channel, but will need driver manipulation to address secondary or SATA channels. Also, drives connected are identified by serial number, so, if morethan 1 drive is connected, you better make sure that you know the serial number of the target. Also with no process logging, the functional use of HDDERASE.EXE in enterprise is limited.

    To truly benefit from the power of Secure Erase it is best launched in a purpose built sanitization apliance such as is available from Ensconcce Data Technology in Portsmouth New Hampshire. Thier Digital Shredder ( deployed across many copanies and government departments looking to bring the security of the sanitizaton process in house, and avoid the risks inherent to shipping devices to a centralized physical destruction facility...

    As a green solution SE affords users the ability to purge their legacy data beyond laboratory reconstructive efforts using a process that does not create eWaste. YES, THE DEVICE IS FULLY SECURED AND REUSABLE AT THE END OF THE PROCESS.

    Want more information on the best practices for the destruction of digital data ping me, and I will be glad to share what I know...

  2. Thanks for the detailed info. It is good to know the limitations (and risks) associated with this program.