Securely Erase Your SSD for Windows, Mac and Linux Users

Securely Erase Your SSD Windows, Mac and Linux

Only securely erase your SSD if you have to.

There are many reasons why you may want to erase/wipe your Solid-State Drive.

Doing so can sanitize the Drive, ensuring that viruses and malware have no place left to hide. Wiping an SSD also helps recover lost performance on laptops with inefficient garbage collection.

One of the reasons why you should securely erase your SSD only if you have to is because solid-state drives are designed with self-sufficiency in mind.

They’re programmed with a series of algorithms and fail-safes, like wear leveling that ensure unwanted data is properly discarded to maximize drive life.

Securely Erase Your SSD

If you want actionable tips on:

  • exactly what Secure Erasing is
  • how your laptop uses wear leveling to stay clean
  • how to Secure Erase your SSD for Windows, Mac and Linux
  • just what to do in the case of a ‘Freeze Lock’ during a Secure Erase

We’d love to help you answer these questions in this article.

MUST READ: Signs Your SSD Is Going Bad

(Keep an eye out for our helpful PRO TIPS along the way.)

Wear leveling constantly re-shuffles new and incoming data around the SSD to ensure all ‘blocks’ (which are like sectors on a hard disk drive) are worn at an equal rate. This also helps prolong the life of the SSD. Changes are then recorded on a map only the SSD knows about.

And since SSDs don’t use physically indexable locations like HDDs. Your laptop has no idea where information was copied.

In summary, like an HDD when you delete something on a solid-state drive. It’s not really deleted. You just prevent the Drive from being able to find that particular piece of information.

So then, how is information erased from the solid-state drive?

PRO TIP #1: Delete does not mean Erase. When you delete a file. Only some references to the file are deleted from the system tables. The file contents remain until another file overwrites it. Which means any software/hardware recovery tool can restore the data until it’s been overwritten by new data.

Securely Erase Your SSD: What Is Secure Erase

It’s a set of commands available from the firmware on ATA based drives; used as a data sanitization method to completely overwrite ALL data on your SSD.

Once the program using Secure Erase firmware command is finished. You will never be able to retrieve the information. (Even by using data recovery programs.)

Most new laptops are equipped with a TRIM function, which is a command that assists the operating system in letting the SSD know which blocks of data can be wiped permanently. But only the Drive knows when that will be.

PRO TIP #2: We strongly advise against using a secure “file shredder” to overwrite files and folders. Doing so harms the SSD by performing unnecessary Writes to the Drive.

SSD Secure Erase for Windows

But, securely erasing your SSD is more a resetting of the blocks, rather than a total wipe/erase.

What really happens is that the “ATA Secure Erase” command-a feature built into every drive since 2001-tells the Drive to flush all stored electrons. Which forces the SSD to forget all stored data.

The Secure Erase command causes the SSD to apply a voltage spike to all available NAND at once. Which resets every block of space at one time.

PRO TIP #3: Doing this uses up one program-erase cycle for your Drive. Which can put a small deficit on the life-span of your SSD.

Securely Erase Your SSD for Windows 10

Securely Erase Your SSD for Windows 10

Always on the forefront of user demand. Microsoft had already had the idea in mind of installing the operating system onto SSDs when they designed Windows 10.

As such, a Secure Erase will wipe everything from the SSD, and restore performance without hurting the lifespan of the Drive.

Disk-Partition.com has just the easy to follow, step-by-step instructions you need to securely erase your SSD all your content. Including personal data, viruses and malware from your SSD for Windows 10.

SSD Secure Erase for Mac

SSD Secure Erase for Mac: Securely Erase Your SSD

For Mac users, Apple really doesn’t want you messing with your laptop. And to that end, performing a Secure Erase on an Apple laptop is a bit challenging.

You’ll need to take additional steps to ensure you properly erase everything from the Drive so sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Our recommendation is if your Mac is still under warranty when you develop SSD issues. Simply take it to an Apple store.

But, if you’re a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, OSXDaily.com will be happy to assist you with expert instructions to help securely erase your SSD.

SSD Secure Erase for Linux

SSD Secure Erase for Linux: Securely Erase Your SSD

When you’re fed up with your laptop’s slowed performance, and partition errors. The smart folks at Techgage.com have got the straight-forward advice you need to securely erase your SSD, and get your laptop humming the way it’s supposed to be for Linux based systems.

(And, if you don’t have Linux, they’ll even tell you how to get that, too.)

Makeusof.com can walk you through How to Boot a Linux Live USB Stick on Your Mac.

MUST READ: How to Buy a New SSD for Your Laptop

SSD Secure Erase Tool

(Gigabyte Kingdom has absolutely no affiliation what so ever with any of these tools or companies.)

Parted Magic

Parted Magic for Securely Erasing Your SSD

There’s a reason why Parted Magic is one of the most widely referenced programs to help you securely erase your SSD.

It’s a veritable, inexpensive, and easy to use toolbox for disk partitioning, cloning, erasing, benchmarking, data rescue, and recovery of your solid-state drive.

Makeusof.com can teach you everything you need to know about this catch-all tool. You can buy and download it right from Parted Magic for as low as $9, here.

Or buy the bootable CD for $12 from Amazon.com, here.

These are the instructions on how to download and use Parted Magic to get you started

  1. Download Parted Magicand create a mountable USB drive using Unetbootin.
  2. Boot the drive and choose option 1, Default Settings.
  3. Once booted head to Start(bottom left) > System Tools > Erase Disk.
  4. Choose the “Internal:Secure Erase command writes zeroes to entire data area” option, then confirm the drive you want to erase on the next screen.
  5. If you are told your drive is “frozen”, you will need to click the Sleepbutton and repeat this process until you can proceed further. If your drive indicates a password requirement, leave the password as “NULL”.
  6. Confirm that you have read and understand the risks, and hit Yesto erase your drive.

Parted Magic for Macs

Parted Magic works on Macs. Provided you can get it to download in the first place. But, trying to download it from a USB on Mac is notoriously problematic.

Once again, our recommendation is if your Mac is still under warranty when you develop SSD issues. Send it to Apple and save yourself the headache.

HDD Erase for SSD Can Help You Securely Erase Your SSD

HDD Erase for Solid-State Drives

This is a freeware alternative to Parted Magic.

Developed by the experts at the University of California, the interface uses the old-fashion command-line utility.

Word of warning though: if the Drive’s security is ‘Frozen’ (which most are to prevent security attacks by malware) this utility won’t work.

And, since it’s a 16-bit program. It will run under any 32-bit version of Windows. But won’t run directly under 64-bit installations. For that, you’ll need to run it from a bootable flash drive, or CD.

After that, using the program is fairly easy on systems where ATA drive security is not used:

  1. Type “Y” to answer the “don’t blame us question”
  2. Enter the ID of the drive you want erase, then hit enter
  3. And simply wait a few minutes to regain control of your SSD

The HDParm Command Can Help You Securely Erase Your SSD

HDParm for Securely Erasing Your SSD

This is an ATA secure erase procedure that uses the hdparm command to restore the SSD to factory default.

We only suggest this as an alternative to Parted Magic. But we STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST IT as it has the undesirable potential to render the SSD completely unusable. And even worse, crash your laptop.

For complete instructions on this procedure, click here.

SSD Secure Erase Frozen

“Freeze Locking” happens when the UEFI/BIOS recognizes that your SSD is plugged in at bootup. Plugging in the SSD after bootup will prevent this from happening.

What If Your SSD Still Doesn’t Show Up So You Can Securely Erase Your SSD

Click on the option to put the laptop to sleep, then try the Secure Erase command again.

And If That Doesn’t Work to Securely Erase Your SSD

Put the laptop into sleep mode again. Then make sure that your Secure Erase tool and other USB devices are not connected to the laptop. And try the command again.

If That Still Doesn’t Get Help You Securely Erase Your SSD

  1. Reboot the laptop
  2. Enable AHCI mode in the UEFI/BIOS and “hot swap” on the SATA ports
  3. Save and exit
  4. Turn off the laptop
  5. Unplug EVERYTHING from your SATA ports, except the Optical Drive
  6. Turn on the laptop. And boot to your Secure Erase tool
  7. When the main screen comes up, plug your SSD into a SATA 2 port

This video can walk you through the steps in much clearer detail.

Conclusion

Only securely erase your SSD if you have to. Solid-state drives are already designed with self-sufficiency in mind. But there are many reasons why you may want to perform a Secure Erase of your SSD, anyway.

Secure Erase is a data sanitization method that uses a set of commands available from the firmware on ATA based drives to overwrite all the information on your SSD. Which can be applied to Windows, Mac, and Linux based laptops.

We’d love to continue this conversation with you in the comment section. Was there something we overlooked? Tell us what your Secure Erase tool is, and what you last used it for.

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