Can I use Secure Erase on my external usb hard drive


Jan 17, 2014
When I purge bare hard drives I like to use their built in Secure Erase feature. Can I use the same feature if I have the same drive in an external USB box with SATA- USB bridge board?



It is possible to do so, but it is a very, very, very bad idea.

The Secure Erase command disconnects the drive from the system and offloads all erase commands to the drive controller. The drive controller will not communicate with the host system until the erase command has been completed. The drive must be left alone for the duration of the erasure. SATA/PATA ports have no problem doing this (they're designed with it in mind), the ATA-USB bridge used by external enclosures is not. If the hard disk controller stops responding (which it will during the erase command) the USB host controller will not be expecting the device to timeout and disconnect. The host controller may attempt to disconnect or reset the bridge device, which can interfere with the hard disk controller while it is performing the secure erase. This can cause undefined behaviour on the drive, including unrecoverable failure.

If you want to erase an external drive connected over a USB or Firewire bridge you must use a software method of erasing the drive. If the drive is an SSD it must be connected to a SATA port and erased using the secure erase command.


Jun 10, 2009

What about SSD Drives? An SSD Secure Erase isn't the same as writing all over data sectors of an HDD via some algorithm, taking less than a minute. For instance it takes about 10 seconds to secure erase a Samsung EVO. However, I've tried using Parted Magic to do so but it doesn't see the drive as an SSD : it doesn't offer the option to zero out data, to give that spike for resetting everything in the SSD. Which is odd since the USB should have much less problems dealing with such command performed by some SATA-USB bridge. But no : although the Secure Erase function from Parted Magic will see and allow the treatment of a HDD via USB 3.0, it won't recognize an SSD so that it can be secure erase via the SSD method rather than some HDD algorithm (that said even though GParted which is included in Parted Magic, Paragon Disk Manager and Windows disk manager, they all recognize that external USB drive as an SSD)... Thus it's by design : an illogic design which however seems to be a consensus among weirdly prejudiced developers (they should allow secure erasing SSD via USB, but not HDD : currently only HDD can be considered via USB for some secure erase software like Parted Magic, same thing for manufacturers SSD Secure Erase tools like Samsung's which simply don't see anything via USB. Same thing for Silicon Power's Secure Erase tool, which sees an SSD but reports wildly incorrect information about its own SSDs, not to mention that in which case the secure erase function is absent, unavailable...

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