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I have an SSD I want to wipe and reset (I'm giving it to my little brother). Most SSDs come with software that can do a secure erase, but they are unable to operate when you are booted from the drive you want to erase.

Is there some way I can boot to something like USB drive and perform the wipe from there?

(Oh, and this laptop doesn't have an optical drive)

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Do you really have to do a secure erase? Is there anything that important on there you can't trust him with? A simple format would be sufficient otherwise, which can be done at the time that he's installing whatever-he-intends-to-put-on-it. –  Shinrai Jul 20 '11 at 21:03
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@Shinrai: A secure erase wipes all LBAs and sets them to "erased, clean" state on the SSD, restoring the performance the drive had when it was new. A format doesn't do that. –  Billy ONeal Jul 20 '11 at 21:05
    
What specifically is the drive? Most drives should be taking care of performance degredation as you use them anyway through TRIM or passive garbage collection or similar. –  Shinrai Jul 20 '11 at 21:10
    
@Shinrai: Not true. TRIM prevents the pathological cases but it will not restore "like new" performance on most drives. Particularly not on any drives with Sandforce controllers. –  Billy ONeal Jul 20 '11 at 21:14
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Nope, not on Sandforce, you're right. That's why I asked what the drive was. (It'll be hard to say in what kind of bootable environment you can do this in anyway without knowing specifically what drive it is since you'll probably have to use a manufacturer's specific utility!) –  Shinrai Jul 20 '11 at 21:15
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can boot Windows PE from a USB drive. If your secure erase utility is on that drive, I'd bet it would work.

This should lead you to the proper information on how to make a Windows PE disk.

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You can use a secure erase utility, such as HDD Erase or DBAN, from a boot disc (or USB drive).

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This is the recommended way to handle this on any Sandforce-based controller, which apparently OP has. +1 –  Shinrai Jul 20 '11 at 21:25
    
HDDErase needs an optical drive to work, and doesn't even work on most recent computers. (It's a DOS image and fails on almost all recent hardware -- particularly, every machine I've ever tried to use it, because the DOS image does not support AHCI). DBAN does not issue the secure erase command, it writes random data to the disk (which would make performance worse rather than better). –  Billy ONeal Jul 20 '11 at 21:35
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HDDErase will work from USB. I thought it worked in AHCI but I might be remembering wrong. –  Shinrai Jul 20 '11 at 21:41
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