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SSD erasure proves harder than expected


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Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have found that the tried and true techniques used to erase a typical hard drive aren't quite as effective when used on solid state drives(SSD).

The chart above shows the different methods the researchers used on the drives and how successful they were at completely removing the data, they found that even the most successful wipes left at least 10MBs of readable data from a 100MB file. Even using techniques that overwrite all of the data with random data still left nearly all of the original data intact.

To find out how effective each of the wipe techniques was, the researchers went as far as to dismantle the drives and access the data through the pins on the chips. After all their tests, the researchers concluded that the most effective way to prevent data from being stolen from the drives is to encrypt them right from the moment you get it. This will also help protect your data if the drive is stolen.

The researchers at the University said that they are using this data in an attempt to come up with a way to more effectively clean a SSD for disposal. SSDs are still making their way into the market, according to InformationWeek they currently only hold about 2% of the laptop market but that number is expected to double by 2014.

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Don't leave me this way

Deleting data from solid state drives (SSD) is proving impossible using current software tools academics have warned.

In a University of California paper (PDF) an academic team has found that traditional software erasing techniques designed for platter hard drives are not applicable to solid state technology.

"We found that none of the available software techniques for sanitizing individual files were effective," the team reported.

While most SSD manufacturers include applications for overwriting data on the drives the team found that this software was often either ill-suited to the task or simply not doing the job. Wiping techniques are usually effective but lacked certain safeguards.

"The internals of an SSD differ in almost every respect from a hard drive, so assuming that the erasure techniques that work for hard drives will also work for SSDs is dangerous," the study found.

The team found that after creating a thousand test files 16 were recoverable using standard techniques. In one case a manufacturer's recommended wiping instructions left all the data intact on the drive, and some vendors left the encryption key store on the drives intact.

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even with sata harddrives, you should physically destroy the plates period.

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I feel this gives researchers a chance to develop new techniques, or even manufacturers can try doing something about it. I don't understand one thing, why decrease the life of a SSD by overwriting so much? :mellow:

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There are occasions when one would want to securely erase a SSD or HD. For example, if/when you have to send your machine somewhere for repair or before you sell it. Overwriting each sector with 1's or 0's various numbers of times is part of most secure erasing methods.

I keep only my OS (system files) and program installations on my primary internal HD. And that will one day (hopefully soon) be an SSD. I keep my program data and user data files on a second internal hard drive, so there will never be very much important personal info on my future SSD. And, most of the sensitive user info is also encrypted. So I am mostly concerned about protecting the info on my secondary internal hard drive which will probably always be a mechanical HD and there is no problem securely erasing these with many currently available apps (such as e.g., Acronis, TuneUp Utilities, HD Tune Pro, etc.) which include effective utilities for securely erasing mechanical HD's.

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I started using Shredders when I discovered corrupted data and had some problems with an HD. at which point I learned that overwriting data is the best method of actually removing something from the HD ( which it does not normally - only removed from MFT )... AND another reason I used it was because it was stated at the time that it could possibly - due to other factors - increase the life and stability of said drive.. ( instead of getting pieces of data which are still in tact becoming corrupted as they are partially overwritten.. - the drive and system can actually still 'see' this data.. and it can cause issues ) Then I had this conflict where you have the purist view of cleaning and maintenance versus the extra read/write cycle that the drive media itself will have in its lifetime - which is why I like the RAM Drive idea and several other options.. but they too need to save an image to disk )...

Really looking at an SSD and the problems that have arisen.. as of late it seems to be that they problematic to begin with.. I mean outside of operating differently and some terms or types of use varying.. determining the life of said SSD's seems to be much lower than HD's.. which is actually supposed to be just the opposite of this type of media... In fact.. Truthfully I am leaning more toward.. a different type of SSD should it ever come about.. Made of RAM for example that has a limitless number of read/write cycles.. The problem is the storage itself.. I mean we may need new methods to address issues on SSD's BUT.. reliability seems to be... quite sketchy...

I use Eraser version 5.8.7, PGP Shredder... Have several that I have used on HBCD... Acronis and even SpyBot has one.. and WinASO... :P ..LOL and Windows 7 Manager..not for sure where this will stop.. Eraser by Heidi is used through my Context Menu.. and PGP Shredder seems to be able to fill the gaps.. BUT.. you have to be careful of links to or shortcuts to other files and folders as it will delete them.. Some must have a method of moving to Recycle Bin.. then that has to be shredded.. AND I always shred the free space on a drive after I have installed, cleaned and defragged a drive...

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I started using Shredders when I discovered corrupted data and had some problems with an HD. at which point I learned that overwriting data is the best method of actually removing something from the HD ( which it does not normally - only removed from MFT )... Then I had this conflict where you have the purist view of cleaning and maintenance versus the extra read/write cycle that the drive media itself will have in its lifetime - which is why I like the RAM Drive idea and several other options.. but they too need to save an image to disk )...

Really looking at an SSD and the problems that have arisen.. as of late it seems to be that they problematic to begin with.. I mean outside of operating differently and some terms or types of use varying.. determining the life of said SSD's seems to be much lower than HD's.. which is actually supposed to be just the opposite of this type of media... In fact.. Truthfully I am leaning more toward.. a different type of SSD should it ever come about.. Made of RAM for example that has a limitless number of read/write cycles.. The problem is the storage itself.. I mean we may need new methods to address issues on SSD's BUT.. reliability seems to be... quite sketchy...

That's something new to me. All this time I didn't pay attention to the fact that it would only remove the data from MFT. :mellow: That joins some pieces about why a deleted file can be recovered. I believe even Shift + Delete would be doing the same thing.

About SSD RAM drives, as stated before, even I'll love to see them, but the problem is that even if they are SRAM, they will lose the data once the power is lost.

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Yeah I know .. what I mean about the problem being storage.... :thumbsup: It seems that I remember something abut another experimental form of storage... quite awhile back.. had something to do with a small piece of iron.. can't remember.. :P

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