Wipe external hard disks and thumbdrives securely

Wipe thumbdrives and external hard disks data

External hard disks can be securely wiped like a normal hard drive but memory sticks are a different matter.

Thumbdrives use wear leveling technology to extend their life span, this technology avoids overwritting data always on the same sectors, this makes next to impossible to securely wipe a memory stick or thumbdrive.

If you thumbdrive has had confidential data you will have no choice other than physically destroying it. To avoid this in the future consider encrypting it.

Wiping a fully encrypted USB thumbdrive is easy, you only have to format it, as long as the encryption you have used is strong and the passphrase hard to crack, you will be safe.

Solid state disks secure wiping

Securely wipe a solid state disk SSD

SSD wear leveling technology

Solid state disks are found at high end laptops, they have no platters and can be considered like a huge USB memory stick. Without mechanical parts they are les vulnerable to movements and also consume less energy, hence why laptops and netbooks use it.

Like thumbdrives, solid state disks use wear leveling technology to write data, traditional hard drive wiping software solutions will not securely clean a solid state disk.

Your only options to be sure that data will not be recovered from a solid state disk, is to encrypt it before downloading any data. Physically destroy the hard drive if it has been compromised and your livehood depends on that data being irrecoverable, and less effective, you can try and fill the solid state disk with big chunks of data, such as videos or music, with the hope that this will be overwritten over the old data.

Solid state drives (SSD) security problem

"...encryption of existing unencrypted data on flash-based SSDs cannot be performed securely due to the fact that wear leveling causes new encrypted drive sectors to be written to a physical location different from their original location—data remains unencrypted in the original physical location..."

- Wikipedia

How to destoy thumbdrive confidential data

Only physical destruction or encryption before use will protect your SSD

destroy hard drive