SSD memory cell clearing

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Revision as of 04:56, 8 August 2013 by Richli (Talk | contribs) (Step 1 - Make sure the drive security is not frozen: Add T420 to workaround list)

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Summary help replacing me
This article presents a method to reset all cells on an SSD to their factory default state thus recovering any loss of write performance.
Related Articles
Solid State Drives
Securely Wipe HDD

On occasion, users may wish to completely reset an SSD's cells to the same virgin state they were manufactured, thus restoring it to its factory default write performance. Write performance is known to degrade over time even on SSDs with native TRIM support. TRIM only safeguards against file deletes, not replacements such as an incremental save.

Warning: Back up ALL data of importance prior to continuing! Using this procedure will destroy ALL data on the SSD and render it unrecoverable by even data recovery services! Users will have to repartition the device and restore the data after completing this procedure!
Warning: Do not proceed with this if your drive isn't connected directly to a SATA interface. Issuing the Secure Erase command on a drive connected via USB or a SAS/RAID card could potentially brick the drive!

Step 1 - Make sure the drive security is not frozen

Issue the following command:

# hdparm -I /dev/sdX

If the command output shows "frozen" one cannot continue to the next step. Most BIOSes block the ATA Secure Erase command by issuing a "SECURITY FREEZE" command to "freeze" the drive before booting an operating system.

A possible solution for SATA drives is hot-(re)plug the data cable (which might crash the kernel). If hot-(re)plugging the SATA data cable crashes the kernel try letting the operating system fully boot up, then quickly hot-(re)plug both the SATA power and data cables.

  • It has been reported that hooking up the drive to an eSATA SIIG ExpressCard/54 with an eSATA enclosure will leave the drive security state to "not frozen".
  • Placing the target system into "sleep" (Clevo M865TU notebook, Fujitsu T2010 notebook, Dell XPS M1330, Lenovo ThinkPad x220/x230/T420, Samsung NC10, Samsung Ultrabook 530U3C) and waking it up again has been reported to work as well; this may reset drives to "not frozen". In case you are booting from USB, you need a distribution, that runs entirely in RAM, like Grml, see the grml2ram option. Run echo -n mem > /sys/power/state to set the computer to sleep.
  • Hooking up the drive to a USB 2/3 port does NOT work, as you need to issue IDE commands, which is only possible via IDE/SATA connection.
  • Make sure drive security is disabled in BIOS, so no password is set:
Security: 
        Master password revision code = 65534
                supported
        not     enabled
        not     locked
        not     frozen
        not     expired: security count
                supported: enhanced erase
        2min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. 2min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.

Step 2 - Enable security by setting a user password

Note: When the user password is set the drive will be locked after next power cycle denying normal access until unlocked with the correct password.

Any password will do, as this should only be temporary. After the secure erase the password will be set back to NULL. In this example, the password is "PasSWorD" as shown:

# hdparm --user-master u --security-set-pass PasSWorD /dev/sdX
security_password="PasSWorD"
/dev/sdX:
Issuing SECURITY_SET_PASS command, password="PasSWorD", user=user, mode=high

As a sanity check, issue the following command

# hdparm -I /dev/sdX

The command output should display "enabled":

 Security: 
        Master password revision code = 65534
                supported
                enabled
        not     locked
        not     frozen
        not     expired: security count
                supported: enhanced erase
        Security level high
        2min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. 2min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.

Step 3 - Issue the ATA Secure Erase command

Warning: Triple check that the correct drive designation is used. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK ONCE THE ENTER KEY HAS BEEN PRESSED! You have been warned.
# hdparm --user-master u --security-erase PasSWorD /dev/sdX

Wait until the command completes. This example output shows it took about 40 seconds for an Intel X25-M 80GB SSD.

security_password="PasSWorD"
/dev/sdX:
Issuing SECURITY_ERASE command, password="PasSWorD", user=user
0.000u 0.000s 0:39.71 0.0%      0+0k 0+0io 0pf+0w

The drive is now erased. After a successful erasure the drive security should automatically be set to disabled (thus no longer requiring a password for access). Verify this by running the following command:

# hdparm -I /dev/sdX

The command output should display "not enabled":

 Security: 
        Master password revision code = 65534
                supported
        not     enabled
        not     locked
        not     frozen
        not     expired: security count
                supported: enhanced erase
        2min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. 2min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.

Tips

See the GRUB_EFI_Examples for hardware-specific instructions to get GRUB EFI working following a wipe.