While it is still not common sense to securely erase data on hard drives (read: Securely Erase Files) before computers or hard drives are sold, or given away. the matter becomes even more complicated when SSD - Solid State Drives - are involved.
The positive aspect of Solid State Drives is that data cannot be recovered if it is overwritten on the drive which means that only one pass is needed to erase the data on the SSD. The bad news however is that not the operating system but the controller specifies where the data is written on the SSD.
This in effect means that all methods of overwriting free space are not sufficient for erasing the data securely on those drives. This also means as well that it is not possible to erase specific files securely that are stored on a Solid State Drive.
Most programs designed to secure erase files on drives or even the empty space on it, like Eraser, do not work therefore efficiently when you use them in combination with Solid State Drives.
Users who want to delete data securely on SSDs have therefore the following options at hand:
Encryption is surely the best method of ensuring that the data on a SSD is secure as it cannot be accessed without decryption.What you would do here is encrypt the whole SSD so that none of the data stored on it - regardless of it being still there or deleted - remains accessible after the operation.
Encryption ensures that the data that is on the drive remains accessible, while none of it can be restored because of the encryption.
You can use a free encryption program like VeraCrypt for encrypting the whole drive, or a part of it.
Formatting the drive on the other hand is only reasonable if no data on that drive is needed anymore. It would otherwise require extensive backup and restoration procedures.
You may also combine the two options. First encrypt, then run a quick format to make the drive accessible again without decryption key. This is a good option when you are about to sell the drive, hand it over to someone else, or want to trash it.
Filling the drive with data might work as well as it would overwrite anything on the drive but it too is not the best option as it will deteriorate the drive's performance as well and may even reduce its lifecycle.
Some SSD manufacturers have created programs that may offer another alternative. Intel's Solid-State Drive Toolbox comes with a secure erase feature that can be used as well to remove data permanently from Intel SSDs so that it cannot be recovered anymore.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.