Explanation of Secure Erase and How does It Wipe a Hard Drive
The name Secure Erase is given to a set of commands which are available from the firmware on SATA and PATA based hard drives. When you need to completely overwrite all of the data stored on a hard drive, the secure erase commands are used as a data sanitization method.
If a hard drive has been erased with a program that uses Secure Erase firmware programs, it will be impossible to extract data from that drive, regardless of which data recovery method, file recovery program or partition recovery program you use.
Remark 1: Remember that Secure Erase and any other sanitization method are completely different from deleting your computer’s files by sending them to the Recycle bin. With Secure Erase, you will permanently delete the files, while with the second method you will only move the data to a location which is easy to get rid of the system.
The method of Secure Erase Wipe
The instructions for the Secure Erase data sanitization are as follows:
- The first pass: Writes a binary one or zero.
It is not required to do verification of the overwrite since the writing happens within the drive. In other words, this means that the drive’s write fault detection forecloses any misses.
And this is what exactly makes Secure Erase so quick and effective in comparison to other data sanitization methods.
ERASE PREPARE and SECURITY ERASE UNIT are some specific set of Secure Erase commands.
Secure Erase Additional info
There are some free hard drives erasing programs that can work thru the Secure Erase commands. Check this list of of Free Data Destruction Software Programs for additional info.
Because Secure Erase is a whole-drive data sanitization method only, you cannot use it as a data wipe method when you destruct separate files or folders. For data wiping, we use special tools called file shredders. You can check this list of Free File Shredder Software Program.
The most efficient way to erase the data from the hard drive is to use the Secure Erase. In this way the operation is carried out from the drive itself, the same hardware which wrote the data in the first place. While you can use other methods to remove data from the hard drive, they can prove to be slightly less effective because they will heavily rely on more standards ways of data overwriting.
Please note that Secure Erase is not available on SCSI hard drives.
Remark 2: It is not possible to run and execute firmware commands on a hard drive in the same manner like you run them on Windows thru the Command Prompt. In order to execute Secure Erase commands, it is required that you use some programs which interface directly with the hard drive, even though it is most likely that you won’t be running the command manually.
Difference between Secure Erase and Securely Erasing a Hard drive
It is most certain that you will find programs that contain the words secure erase in their names or titles, or claim that they can securely erase the data from your hard drive. But remember that unless they specifically mention that they use a hard drive’s Secure Erase commands, that they are not capable of doing so.