Methods for Cleaning Up Hard Disk Drives |
This article reviews the various methods available to sanitize hard disks along
with the advantages and disadvantages in each case.
Removing the data
on old unwanted disk drives has become a concern for all users.
Pointsec found that
they were able to read 7 out of 10 hard-drives bought over the Internet
at auctions such as eBay, for less than the cost of a McDonald's meal, all of
which had "supposedly" been "wiped-clean" or "re-formatted".
|Sanitization Methods for
Cleaning Up Hard Disk Drives
by Jayson Oertel, Marketing
Director - ICS
Every computer user that replaces his hard drive has to deal with the
issue of erasing or wiping out the data from his old hard drive. The more
sensitive the data the more important is the wipeout method and process. There
are today 3 basic alternatives, with few variations, to solve this issue.
The advantages and disadvantages of
these methods are discussed below.
- Software solution
- Hardware duplicator solution
- Hardware Wipe Out solution
(Editor:- a 4th method, which is less common, is physical
destruction of the hard drive into small chunks from which
data recovery is no
longer feasible. This is the most expensive method but has the advantage of
working in some situations when the others won't work - for example if there is
an interface or media error in the hard drive which means that data can be read,
but not overwritten.)
This is a low cost single drive
solution. There are several software programs that allow a user to attach a
drive to his computer and erase its content. And on a fast computer this could
run pretty fast.
- Low cost (usually under $100)
To summarize this option: This is a good solution for sophisticated
users that do not need to deal with several drives at the same time, that can
allocated a computer for this task and do not have highly sensitive data.
- Can only wipe out one drive at a time
- Most low cost software programs do not support DOD (Department Of Defense)
requirements for Wipe out.
- Most programs do not support HPA (Host Protected Area) and DCO (Drive
Configuration Overlay). Even if a program supports it, not all drive controllers
inside the PC support those commands. This could potentially leave a lot of
hidden information on the drive.
- Programs that run under XP are prone to Viruses. Theoretically a virus can
hinder the operation of the wipe out. The result could be partial wipe out or
none at all. A DOS or Linux programs can solve this issue; the penalty is more
complexity and less speed.
This is the most expensive solution.
are stand-alone units that are designed to duplicate multiple hard drives very
fast at the same time. Most of those units support a wipe out option among many
To summarize this option: This is a good solution for trained users
that can operate a hard drive duplicator. It provides good speed and reliable
wipeout. The main drawback though, is the full cost of a duplicator for the only
use of wipe out. Due to the complex configurations options of the duplicator it
is easily possible to misconfigure the unit, resulting in partial wipe out.
- Require some expertise
- Not all unit support HPA and DCO
Hardware Wipe Out solution
Referring to the above
factors, the author's company, Intelligent Computer Solutions Inc (ICS) came
out with a solution that combines the advantages of SW and HW and eliminate all
the disadvantages and risks of the other solutions. This is a stand alone
hardware unit that is dedicated to wipe out 9 drives at a time and is about 40%
of the cost of an equivalent duplicator. Since it is optimized for wipe out
it does not have many configuration options and it makes it extremely easy to
- Simple to operate
- Support all IDE and SATA drives
- Support HPA and DCO
- No viruses concerns
- No need to allocate a computer
- Does not require a sophisticated user
- Erase data from multiple hard drives (upto 9 simultaneously) faster than it
would take to a regular computer to wipe out data from one hard drive.
summarize this option
- higher cost than software for low volume of disks (Editor)
This is the best solution for wiping out
drives. The unit's simple interface minimizes user error, even with an untrained
user. Since the unit is optimized for wipe out it is much less expensive than
full duplicator and it supports all the requirement of wiping out hard drives.
Currently (in 2005) the only manufacturer of such a system is
Intelligent Computer Solutions.
It is a stand alone unit and eliminate the need to dedicate another unit (such
as a computer or a duplicator) for such a task, and therefore the most cost
effective solution ever. With the growing demand by law, such as the new HIPPA
Regulations and the procedures for computer forensic data acquisition) the need
of many government agencies to suddenly face the need to erase huge amounts of
data and do it forensically (with many iterations on each hard drive it seems
that any other solution known so far would not stand to the task.
...Later:- now there are lots of
companies listed here on StorageSearch.com
|Fast Purge flash SSDs
when "Rugged SSDs"
|The need for fast and
secure data erase - in which vital parts of a flash SSD or its data are
destroyed in seconds - has always been a requirement in military projects.
|| Although many industrial
SSD vendors offer products with extended "rugged" operating
environment capabilities - and even
notebooks SSDs come
with encryption - it's the availability of fast data purge which
differentiates "truly secure" SSDs which can be deployed in
|SSD Data Recovery
|It's hard enough understanding the design
of any single SSD. And there are so
many different designs
in the market. |
Have you ever wondered what it looks like at the
other end of the SSD supply chain - when a user has a damaged SSD which
contains priceless data with no usable backup?