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Acting on information in an outdated version of the ULSAH, I have tried to wipe out my old backup disk (a USB-connected SATA drive, not an SSD) using hdparm with the following options (rather the way a toddler will go about things):

hdparm --security-set-pass foo /dev/sdb
hdparm --security-erase-enhanced foo /dev/sdb
hdparm --security-erase foo /dev/sdb

(I used the third command for good measure.) Later, the disk behaved in unpredictable ways.

hdparm --security-unlock foo /dev/sdb

seemed to make it possible to write a new partition table to it, and beginning a format, but that partition table did not stay. I started to get IO errors when trying to do something with the disk. Repeated attempts at unlocking the disk, or whatever, using hdparm had no further apparent effect.

As I have now realised (see http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-1984547/secure-erase-external-usb-hard-drive.html), the whole idea seems to have been ill-advised in the first place. And having gone about this task without googling first, I don't deserve, and am not hoping for, any sympathy.

But is it possible to tell whether I have definitely bricked the external drive? Is there some kind of diagnostic tool available? It would be a pity to throw away equipment that could basically still work. (As a backup disk, it had a good life so far, with plenty of leisure time.)

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From my experience there's a very rare chance that the Secure Erase will not release a lock on the device and I've had to use MHDD to permanently unlock an internal hard drive. If hdparm can still used on your external drive you might try the -I command to see if it is not locked or locked near the bottom of the wall of text it proves.

Edit: To clarify there's two types of drive unlocks. Temporary, when a hard drive is unlocked until the next power cycle and a permanent unlock which removes the lock on said drive. As far as I can remember, it's been a while, only one unlock can be performed per power cycle.

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