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Windows 7: Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data

21 Feb 2011   #11
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ciara View Post
I was to buy a SSD drive later this year as part of a new computer build ... I may well be looking at a mechanical drives now
Why would this info change your mind? do you often lose your hard drive?
Also, if your mechanical drive fails and you RMA it, the Data is still on it.
It is not a question of how often a drive is lost (although with thumb drives that is not so rare), but how much and what kind of data is lost. I can't speak for anyone else, but even if I have to RMA a drive, I low level format it first. I see no reason to trust my data to someone that works for a manufacturer, than I do with anyone else.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
22 Feb 2011   #12
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Hi,

I think the issue is more of a case of how well a SSD disk is "scrubbed" or "erased". A disk format is not the same as "scrubbing", even on a mechanical disk. See here for some background reading:

Data recovery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There is lots of software out there that is able to scrub mechanical disks, but the article in the first post raises questions as to how well this software scrubs non-mechanical (ie. SSD, flash, thumb) disks.

If an SSD dies on you, and an RMA is not an issue, then the safest method is absolute destruction.

Regards,
Golden
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #13
Buddahfan

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Someone will figure out how to solve the problem

In fact that person could be a poster on Windows SevenForums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

22 Feb 2011   #14
Zepher

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by seekermeister View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ciara View Post
I was to buy a SSD drive later this year as part of a new computer build ... I may well be looking at a mechanical drives now
Why would this info change your mind? do you often lose your hard drive?
Also, if your mechanical drive fails and you RMA it, the Data is still on it.
It is not a question of how often a drive is lost (although with thumb drives that is not so rare), but how much and what kind of data is lost. I can't speak for anyone else, but even if I have to RMA a drive, I low level format it first. I see no reason to trust my data to someone that works for a manufacturer, than I do with anyone else.
If the drive can't be accessed to be low level formatted, what do you do, just destroy the drive and not RMA it?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #15
Ciara

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ciara View Post
I was to buy a SSD drive later this year as part of a new computer build ... I may well be looking at a mechanical drives now
Why would this info change your mind? do you often lose your hard drive?
Also, if your mechanical drive fails and you RMA it, the Data is still on it.
Loosing is not the issue its not being able to get rid of data, as I said ...
Quote:
Could that cause a problem when performing a clean install of an Operating System ? residue of the previous Operating System could cause system problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #16
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by seekermeister View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post

Why would this info change your mind? do you often lose your hard drive?
Also, if your mechanical drive fails and you RMA it, the Data is still on it.
It is not a question of how often a drive is lost (although with thumb drives that is not so rare), but how much and what kind of data is lost. I can't speak for anyone else, but even if I have to RMA a drive, I low level format it first. I see no reason to trust my data to someone that works for a manufacturer, than I do with anyone else.
If the drive can't be accessed to be low level formatted, what do you do, just destroy the drive and not RMA it?
Possibly. That depends on what I was using the drive for, and what it contained.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #17
lehnerus2000

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18.2 MATE, W10 Home, #All 64 bit
 
 
I'm confused

Is this article saying, if I delete ALL of the files on a USB stick (lets say 4 GB) and I then write a 4 GB file (lets say a bmp) my original data can be recovered?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #18
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

That is what it is suggesting, yes. But, it does take some effort to do that - its not straight forward to simply "get" to the original files.

Its worth reading the paper referenced at the bottom of the article that Airbot referenced, posted here (mods please remove if its not OK to post a direct link to that paper):

http://www.usenix.org/events/fast11/...papers/Wei.pdf

In the their paper, the researchers conclude:

Quote:

overwriting the entire visible address space of an SSD twice is usually, but not always, sufficient to sanitize the drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #19
Zepher

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ciara View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ciara View Post
I was to buy a SSD drive later this year as part of a new computer build ... I may well be looking at a mechanical drives now
Why would this info change your mind? do you often lose your hard drive?
Also, if your mechanical drive fails and you RMA it, the Data is still on it.
Loosing is not the issue its not being able to get rid of data, as I said ...
Quote:
Could that cause a problem when performing a clean install of an Operating System ? residue of the previous Operating System could cause system problems.
I keep my old drives and when I no longer need them (usually due to the small size of the drive or the interface style) then I'll physically destroy them.
About 5 years ago I was cleaning up and had a stack of 9GB Seagate SCSI drives that I wouldn't be using anymore. Brought them to the garage and hammered the shit out of them with a 5lbs mallet.

I've got about 15 old drives in my drawer and soon I'll dispose of those as well using the mallet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2011   #20
Stratos

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 / OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8
 
 

First of all low level formatting does not guarantee complete erasure, there are methods that may still allow for some recovery of data. Most of the tools HDD manufacturers offer as free downloads aren't the same as the ones they use at the factory which lays out the sectors and such.

The most effective method is overwriting the memory addresses in the SSD with null data. Using a multi-pass drive erasure tool will do a fine job. So what if someone can recover a few bits of data here and there, what matters is they can't piece together a complete file or a single complete line of data. I've never seen anyone to include Ontrack's services to be able to extract/recover data that's undergone 10 or more overwrites.

If you're that paranoid of data recovery, you can simply use disk encryption, something IBM/Lenovo users have been doing for many years. You can either setup an encrypted partition ahead of time then install your OS ontop of it OR you can use something like TrueCrypt which allows you to create a virtual disk on-the-fly where your OS is already installed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data




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