Best way to securely erase flash drives

Posted on 2011-03-05
Last Modified: 2013-11-08
Hi Experts,

What's everyones favorite way to securely erase flash drives?  We usually use eraser for normal hdds. What do you use and how many passes do you recommend?

We realize that flash drives life may decrease significantly by these methods, but that's fine. The concern is getting confidential data off when a user want to dispose of or reuse a flash drive that was once used for sensitive data.

Question by:Jsmply
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35043803
Dod standard is a three pass method, but here is a tool that lists several 'standards'

And after your device is wiped, you could physically destroy...though that may be too far
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 35043812
And some free options:

However, the above has a 15 day trial and if you need a tool long-term, the deletefilespermanently seems to have a good variety of options.
LVL 55

Accepted Solution

andyalder earned 250 total points
ID: 35045943
I'm not convinced that any of the hard disk secure erase programs that use the overwrite method will work on flash drives. Consider a SSD with a 9% spare area that's been in use for some time, that area is full of your confidential data due to the wear level algorithms and isn't going to get overwritten.

I would get hold of the manufacturers utility or use something that uses the secure erase ATA command instead, that way the controller knows to overwrite the whole thing rather than just the parts that are currently active. See for example.
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

Plantwiz earned 250 total points
ID: 35047525

You'll find some good answers in this article already about what you are asking:!5489933/leave-no-trace-how-to-completely-erase-your-hard-drives-ssds-and-thumb-drives

It covers thumb drives like you ask as well as SSD as the above poster mentions:

Wiping Flash Memory Cards with Roadkil's DiskWipe
Time Needed: Varies; from a few minutes to several hours, depending upon size and speed of drive and computer
Software: Roadkil's DiskWipe, available from
Media: Can be run from Windows desktop

1. Download Roadkil's DiskWipe.
2. Extract the contents of the compressed file.
3. Open DiskWipe. If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, right-click the program icon and select Run as Administrator.
4. Select the drive to wipe.
5. Select the type of wipe to perform; DiskWipe can zero-fill the disk or write random data.
6. Enter the number of passes.
7. Click Erase to start the process.
8. At the end of the process, close the program.


Wiping SSDs
To solve write performance problems on drives that don't support TRIM (check with your drive vendor for firmware upgrades) is to use wiper.exe (included with some SSDs) or to run the Secure Erase feature supported in most recent ATA/IDE and SATA drives. The Secure Erase feature can be activated on many systems by running Secure Erase 4.0 (HDDerase.exe), available from Version 4.0 works with most recent ATA/IDE and SATA hard disks and SSDs, but if you use an Intel X-25M, X-25E, or X-18M SSD, follow this link to download Secure Erase 3.3 Note that it is no longer being developed, and we were unable to use it on a system running an AMD 690 chipset

Please let me know if I may be able to assist you further.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 35065741

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