Solid-state disks offer 'fast erase' features

Military-grade SSDs are easier to erase, although harder to restore

In contrast, SiliconSystems' fast-erase feature requires power, but disconnecting the drive won't kill the process: Erasure continues the instant that power is restored. "There's no way to stop it," says Handy. The technology can be applied to the whole drive or a preconfigured secure "zone" on the SSD that's also protected by a password.

SiliconSystems also offers an SSD self-destruct feature that applies an "overvoltage" to each of the flash chips, physically destroying them. The destruction can be triggered via software or a physical switch, says Drossel. SSDs can also be designed to self-destruct or erase if they are stolen and inserted into any unauthorized machine.

In the private sector, rapid-erasure techniques could be used in point-of-sale systems or kiosks that might contain sensitive customer or sales data. "The data may be gone, but at least it's not in the wrong hands," Drossel says.

More Costly Recovery

The flip side of the level of security SSDs offer is the fact that recovering data from them can be more difficult and expensive than for other media.

Each SSD vendor has its own proprietary method for mapping data from the file system to individual memory cells. "If you don't have the mapping table that records where everything is kept, you have random data distributed throughout the chips," says Bowen. "Everyone follows their own data-placement schemes. Without knowing the details of that, it would be next to impossible to piece all of that together."

That may be true for a hacker, but not for data recovery specialists, who can pull data even when an SSD has sustained physical damage. "Kroll Ontrack has developed methods to recover data without the controller chip available," says Barry. "We've been successful in discovering a number of data layouts for different manufacturers."

Another drawback is that data on SSDs can be far more costly to recover in the event of a physical failure, such as a broken circuit. "When an SSD becomes damaged, it's more difficult to get the data off the raw chips. We've had jobs go as long as three or four months," Barry says. Costs go up if the data is needed quickly and additional staffers are assigned to the project. "That jumps up the service level," he says, "and they pay accordingly."

WinTel and SSD

In the future, changes in how the Windows file system interacts with SSDs may improve both security and performance for end users. Today, when a user deletes a file on a Windows computer, the file system removes the pointers to the locations on disk where the data that makes up the file resides, but the data itself remains until the space is allocated to another file. Only then is it overwritten. That's why erased files can be recovered on hard disk drives, and SSDs operating under Windows are no different. But that may be about to change.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags SSD

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert L. Mitchell

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?