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Backblaze Dispels SSD Recycling and Disposal Myths


Backblaze Dispels SSD Recycling and Disposal Myths

Drilling holes in your old SSD or using a very strong magnet is not advised. There's a much simpler solution.

All storage drives eventually reach their end of life or get replaced with something faster or bigger. And when it comes time to make the transition it's important to ensure your data is removed or rendered unreadbale on the old drive. For mechanical hard drives, there are several well-known methods of achieving that, but backup storage company Backblaze is highlighting the fact none of them work for SSDs.

There are many differences between SSDs and HDDs, and secure disposal is one of them. Hard drives can be securely erased with the right piece of software which rewrites all the data (several times over) to ensure it is cleared. There's also degaussing, which relies on a very strong magnet being applied to the drive so as to randomize the magnetic alignment and leave any stored data unrecoverable.

Finally, we have what some will claim is the most fun way of ensuring the data on your hard drive can't ever be accessed again: by drilling holes in it. Take a power drill, place your hard drive of choice on a suitable surface, and start drilling holes.

In a blog post, Backblaze points out none of these methods work effectively for the ever more popular SSD. They don't store data magnetically, so degaussing doesn't work, secure erasure isn't effective and is even being removed as an option is software such as Apple's Mac Disk Utility. And as for drilling holes, it may damage some of the storage chips in an SSD, but does not ensure all data is unrecoverable.

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The answer to ensuring an SSD is never used again, according to Backblaze, is simply encryption. Perform a complete drive encryption using reputable encryption software, such as Apple's FileVault or Microsoft's BitLocker, and then forget the passphrase to decrypt it!


If you want the SSD to remain usable, then the advice is to recycle it for yourself. Buy an enclosure and use it as a backup drive. That way, nobody else has access to the drive and it's still useful until its real end of life. You could even fill it with media and never write to it again, just access the media as and when you want.

For SSDs soldered on to a motherboard, such as those 32GB drives cheap laptops use, that's not possible and destroying the chips may be the easiest solution if you care to dismantle the laptop to gain access to it. Want to destroy a larger SSD? Then Backblaze recommends shredding, which is far from cheap or widespread.

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