Q. How can I reset a solid state disk (SSD) to a fully erased, clean state?

A. Formatting the file system and deleting partitions won't do anything to reset an SSD to an erased state with empty blocks. The only way to completely reset an SSD is to use the SSD's built-in secure erase features. The easiest way is via a secure erase freeware utility called HDDErase, which uses your drive's secure erase function to clear the SSD. The utility's documentation doesn't specifically mention SSDs, but it works on them.

You boot from a DOS disk or USB key and run the utility. It will then walk you through the steps to perform the secure erase, which will erase all blocks. Note that to use this tool, your SATA controllers must be in legacy mode. You set legacy mode in the BIOS, as shown here for one example system.

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The screens below walk you through HDDErase's basic operation.

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When I reinstall the OS on my SSD, I feel it's a good time to perform the secure erase because so much of the disk content is modified during the reinstall. Note that this counts as one of those precious erase operations (you get around 10,000 of them), so while doing this a few times isn't a big deal, don't make a habit of it.


Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at ITTV.net.

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