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How to Securely Wipe a USB Flash Drive?I

Discussion in 'External and Flash Drives' started by Fake Out, Jan 6, 2021.

  1. Fake Out

    Fake Out

    Jan 6, 2021
    Operating System:
    Windows 10
    How do you securely wipe a USB flash drives? I guess the real question is, do you wipe it like an SSD or an HDD?

    I wipe my SSD and NVMe drives with either the manufacturer's software tool using the secure erase functions, or I load up Parted Magic and use the secure erase function on there.

    I wipe my HDD drives using either Kill Disk or any other software that will just overwrite the entire drive with random characters a few times over.

    I know to you have to wipe the different drives using different methods because of the differences in their composition and how they function. What about a USB flash drive or an SD memory card? They are essentially SDDs, yet most the information I read online say to wipe them like an HDD. Just write random things to them over and over again. I know that's a big no no for SSDs because that will severely degrade their life and you will not get the areas that is reserved for over-provisioning.

    However, is that the proper way to securely wipe all the data from a flash drive? If not, what is?
  2. Tony D

    Tony D Administrator Administrator

    Sep 25, 2009
    SE Pennsylvania, USA
    Operating System:
    Windows XP Professional
    Hello and welcome FO, You are correct when you say that unneeded writing will bring SSDs and other solid state storage devices to premature failure. Since SSDs don't have a magnetic component, it seems to me a single over write would be effective. However, I don't think it's that simple.

    I understand that SSDs and other solid state devices have more storage than advertised. You'll need to address that area also.

    You've already done some research so you may have already seen this information. I found an article by Kim Komando at https://www.komando.com/tech-tips/safely-erase-your-old-flash-drive/473474/
    I found a relevant article that addresses SSDs at https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/securely-erase-ssd-without-destroying/. It talks about the ATA Secure Erase command. This is the first I've heard of this command. The article continues to talk about other methods to securely erase SSDs.

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