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Study: Nearly Impossible to Delete Data on SSDs

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February 23, 2011 11:51:44 PM

I love when researchers catch this things. I'm glad to know someone is looking for every possible feature and flaw for the devices we use.
February 23, 2011 11:52:32 PM

They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.

I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.
February 23, 2011 11:53:43 PM

how about just getting total drive encryption instead.
February 23, 2011 11:56:22 PM

The solution is in your logo... Tom's.
February 23, 2011 11:59:53 PM

_Cubase_The solution is in your logo... Tom's.


after that, 4 seconds in a microwave should render ALL the remaining bits useless....
February 24, 2011 12:03:39 AM

This will stop people from buying used ones then.
February 24, 2011 12:04:03 AM

joytech22They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.


i would just like to point this out. old child *ehem is bad, no question about that, 99%+ of the time, because the children were R'ed.

however new applications of child *ehem laws make an 8 year old who gets their hands on a digital camera and takes a picture of themselves, it labels them a child *ehemographer

now how does this apply to you?

lets say that a someone between 15-17 takes a nude of themselves, and this is common, that is considered child *ehem, now lets say that you honestly cant tell, and unless you are a doctor who knows what they are looking for in bone structure, you probably honestly cant tell. would you want to go to jail for child *ehem because some almost adult took a nude of themselves and you cant tell? this happens FAR more often than you may realism, not the jail part, but profecionals getting tricked by underage. i believe its a 1985 issue of a famous magazine with the bunny, had a 15 year old as their centerfold, if not more.

can you really say that all the *ehem on your computer is 100% all over 18? i can hope all of mine is, but if i ever know without a shadow of a doubt that it isnt, i want to make damn sure the picture is gone and is never coming back.
February 24, 2011 12:10:04 AM

If you really want to erase all the data on your SSD (or HDD for that matter) so no one can get to it there's a simple tool to do so.... a hammer.
February 24, 2011 12:32:28 AM

jprahmanIf you really want to erase all the data on your SSD (or HDD for that matter) so no one can get to it there's a simple tool to do so.... a hammer.


Lol right!
February 24, 2011 12:59:01 AM

Interesting, so SSDs are not implementing the ATA Secure Erase command properly.
February 24, 2011 1:07:37 AM

The best data eraser I have is in front of a nice sofa set and we regularly feed chopped logs into it, especially in winter.
February 24, 2011 1:12:18 AM

randomizerInteresting, so SSDs are not implementing the ATA Secure Erase command properly.


probably due to limited rewrite capabilities.
February 24, 2011 1:21:41 AM

Hammers always work.
February 24, 2011 1:26:14 AM

joytech22They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.

While I agree it's useful in this case, being able to wipe drive is extremely important in corporate/government settings.

What if the government were developing a super-secret new weapon, and needed to upgrade the computers. If someone picked this drive up out of the trash, managed to recover 75% of the data, that means they have 75% of the plans to the death-star or whatever.

Now, the government usually is pretty rigorous about destroying stuff like this, but what about microsoft? What if a somewhat tech-minded janitor at MS HQ was royally screwed at some point and out for revenge? He'd pick up old drives as they were discarded. Eventually he'd find something useful and bam. MS's new code just got leaked to the puclic or sold to the highest bidder.
February 24, 2011 1:39:24 AM

joytech22They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.


Nah, I'd rather the SSDs be able to erase data properly. Besides, criminals and kiddie pervs do a pretty good job of shooting themselves in the foot on a regular basis.
February 24, 2011 1:40:05 AM

I read some of these comments like joytech22's & he should read this article once again...If you read properly,it said that they change the data from 1's to 0's for page & change 0's to 1's for the block area...So all data has not been erased,but changed to read something different...
February 24, 2011 1:45:06 AM

Anyway I have bought 2 SSD's lately,but where pondering on where to use them online...I think I will stick to offline testing & see how effective they are first in speeding up the SSD's...Any thing online can cause your computer to slow down,so I will do it offline...
February 24, 2011 1:49:59 AM

One more thing that I forgot to mention is which are the four SSD brand names and models that do the successfull job of erasing totally & also for what operating systems and whether for x32 bit and/or x64 bit...
February 24, 2011 1:50:12 AM

joytech22They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.

porn
February 24, 2011 2:09:22 AM

All you's want to talk about is porn,but I am wondering about the effectiveness of the cleaning utilities in doing a proper clean up job so that the SSD's will keep their speed up and not slow down...
February 24, 2011 2:14:42 AM

Don't buy a SSD and not worry about it.
February 24, 2011 2:23:40 AM

joytech22They should keep SSD's like this, that way if somebody does something dodgy like child *ehem, can't say that word here* then the authorities can take care of them the old fashioned way.I currently use a SSD and this news doesn't concern me at all.



I'd rather have complete control over my data.
February 24, 2011 2:28:00 AM

screw the hammer. whip that sucker on the ground as hard as you can and have some fun.
February 24, 2011 2:43:06 AM

The company I work for uses a hard drive shredder for old drives. Never seen an SSD go through one but it should make quick work of it. Pretty cool seeing a drive shredded like a piece of papper.
February 24, 2011 2:50:00 AM

Considering the nature of SSDs I've suspected this. Even so, if you're worried about security you should encrypt the drive, and with your done with it use a hammer :D 
February 24, 2011 4:30:18 AM

Just blend the whole SSD(or just the PCB) to become sand...
February 24, 2011 4:49:45 AM

who cares...have nothing to worry about
February 24, 2011 4:57:44 AM

Hammers, microwaves, and fireplaces are all well and good if you want to totally destroy your own hardware out of paranoia or boredom. What about regular home or business users that simply want to delete sensitive information and make sure it's gone for good? The fact that you can't even erase single files with any level of confidence is quite alarming. The fact that USB flash drives and I'm assuming many many SD Cards have this same problem make it even worse.

The argument that we could catch kiddie porn offenders by making every consumer SSD purposely keep deleted data is INSANE! Seriously think about that suggestion. Make it easy to recover anyone's personal info so you can catch a few bad guys?

I have done data recovery for a number of customers who have deleted photos from the SD card in their camera or cell phone and can confirm that sometimes 2 or 3 generations of prior files can be recovered...if not completely than at least partially. I never considered SSD's having this same inherent problem but it does make since.

Luckily it seems that a few added instructions to the FTL firmware can make this problem null and void. I'd like this implemented immediately on any NAND based devices I would ever use for personal info...flash drives especially. Recovering accidentally deleted photos from a camera is all well and good but with more and more people using an SSD for their Windows boot drive, the security risks with being unable to securely erase files is bonkers IMO.
February 24, 2011 5:08:45 AM

I remembered of Recycle Bin, reminded how fast it is to send 10 GB of files top recycle bin without emptying it.
February 24, 2011 5:12:01 AM

Is the image of a Samsung product just representative of an SSD in general or are Samsung SSDs one of the products in question?

(sorry, posted this before but realised my mistake when it was on the UK portal.)
February 24, 2011 6:49:12 AM

Too much e-waste, recycling, & laptops getting blown up on youtube. Want the data gone? Hammer time, blow it up & post it on youtube.
February 24, 2011 7:10:24 AM

Big companies don't keep essential daat on SSDs anyways, realax. SSDs are good for OS and some apps, not for backup. ;) 
February 24, 2011 7:29:02 AM

I agree with bobusboy & the rest about being able to control your own data...
February 24, 2011 8:31:13 AM

A healthy dose of home made thermite should do.
Remember kiddies: Fe2O3 + 2Al → 2Fe + Al2O3 + Heat
Iron Oxide and aluminum dust should be easy enough for you to acquire from a local chemical supply shop.
But don't forget to microwave it first. I suggest going to a convenience store and look for a 2000 watt model, for double the wattage of a normal home microwave, and to prevent your own house from smelling foul.
If you really want to, hit it repeatably with a hammer too. You can do it before, after, or at every step if you so desire.

So, who's worried? They're only $1-3/GB to replace.
February 24, 2011 9:42:46 AM

alidan said:
probably due to limited rewrite capabilities.

Secure Erase whould only add a single erase cycle to each block, since it should just set every cell to 0 (which is later reset to 1). That's far less damaging than something like DBAN.
Anonymous
February 24, 2011 11:09:09 AM

I went through utube (SSD + Microwave) but I could find any posts...any volunteers?
February 24, 2011 11:50:14 AM

At least if you delete something by accident you can almost guarantee it will be recoverable.

People are only stressing because you can never really hide your porn surfing habits.
February 24, 2011 1:34:57 PM

I work for a computer refurbishing company where we take donated computers from various companies and individuals, and either recycle them, or fix them up for low income families and students, and we have already run into this problem. We received a very nice computer (not sure why they were getting rid of it), and our techs were aware of the problem because of our flash drive policy. So we had to throw it in the drive crusher... which was very sad. It will be several years before we run into the problem of needing SSDs for our builds, as most of our current ones get little 80Gigers, but we need a proper solution in place before this becomes a problem.
February 24, 2011 1:51:30 PM

The problem is not that you need to use a hammer. The problem lies when you want to delete a file and STILL USE the drive. If those blocks are still intact after you have deleted the content, it can be retrieved because you're still using the drive 3 years afterwards, then go through TSA in teh US and get nailed for something that should not have been there in the first place.

It's not about final termination of the whole drive, but deleted files and still using the drive afterwards.
February 24, 2011 2:18:21 PM

supertrek32While I agree it's useful in this case, being able to wipe drive is extremely important in corporate/government settings.What if the government were developing a super-secret new weapon, and needed to upgrade the computers. If someone picked this drive up out of the trash, managed to recover 75% of the data, that means they have 75% of the plans to the death-star or whatever.Now, the government usually is pretty rigorous about destroying stuff like this, but what about microsoft? What if a somewhat tech-minded janitor at MS HQ was royally screwed at some point and out for revenge? He'd pick up old drives as they were discarded. Eventually he'd find something useful and bam. MS's new code just got leaked to the puclic or sold to the highest bidder.

If the government just throws out HDDs or SDDs with information that sensitive then they deserve to get their secrets stolen. You DESTROY drives that had info like that, smash, crush or nuke it you don't just throw them out, it's not exactly rocket science to figure this out.
February 24, 2011 5:35:22 PM

SSD's are still far from perfect. in price, capacity, efeciency, and now security. it is like experimental technology.
February 24, 2011 7:24:42 PM

I wonder if this will impact hybrid disk drive efficieny.
February 24, 2011 7:36:51 PM

I wrote the code for a consumer device that stores files in flash memory. I looked into my code to see what I did and this is what I found..

"Erase Unit" really deletes everything! Even the cache sector (or block as the article calls it). Deleting one file is more complicated. It copies the entire sector to the cache, erases that file's sector then copies the cache sector back skipping the unwanted file. The result is that you not only leave a copy of the deleted file but also make a copy of all the other files in its sector.

I could have written the code to erase the cache after every operation but flash memory is slow and since this is not a secure device I went for speed over security. It seems from the article that all the other programmers have pretty much done the same.

While I don't keep illegal files on my SSD, I do have source code, passwords and other personal and proprietary data that I would rather not distribute. If given the choice, would you prefer an SSD that was more secure but noticeably slower? I think most people would say no.

Anonymous
February 24, 2011 9:29:14 PM

The only thing that matters to me is performance. As long as this won't have any significant impact, this is simply useless information =D
February 24, 2011 10:22:39 PM

i wish they'd be more specific as to which ssd brand and software are better at erasing data. if all else fail, infect your ssd with all the viruses and they will do the job for you.
February 24, 2011 10:43:52 PM

Ty Kevin. Informative detailed information like this is what I look for.
February 25, 2011 6:55:44 PM

So the next Trojan or rootkit should be a mix of undelete/recovery, search, and data sending to China... yay.
February 25, 2011 7:08:50 PM

jut bypass the trim or garbage collection program and you're set!
!