SSD

Securely Erasing SSDs

If you’re about to sell or give away a computer, it’s important to ensure that all of your personal data is erased first. This is a pretty simple task when it comes to traditional spinning hard drives, and there are plenty of tools to make sure the drive is completely and securely wiped. Solid State Drives, however, are a different story. SSDs use something called “wear leveling,” which ensures that no one cell gets written to too many times. This is to keep the drive from wearing out, but it also means that it isn’t possible to write over (or erase) every part of the drive.

How can I securely erase an SSD?

Hard drives

Episode 1476

David from Hollywood, CA

Dan's computer was damaged and Acer is going to replace it, but he's worried about the data on it. How can he wipe the data? Leo says that there's a program called DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke that can wipe the drive pretty thoroughly. But Dan should understand that an SSD doesn't format the way a spinning hard drive does, and there can and will be some data leak, where someone could grab the data if they're really motivated.

Why is my Mac running so slow?

Mac Pro

Episode 1470

Timothy from Fresno, CA

Timothy started a new job and he's using a 5-year-old Mac Pro. Leo says that's not that old, actually. Leo prefers them to the recent models. Tim says that there's not a lot of RAM — only 4GB. Leo says that 4GB is OK for most things he'll do online and for documents. But he recommends running the activity monitor to make sure all the RAM is functioning. Sometimes, though, a program doesn't release the RAM when it no longer needs it, and it may be that is what's happening here. The hard drive may be slowing things down as well.

How can I recover missing space on a hard drive?

Hard drives

Episode 1468

Larry from Petaluma, CA

Larry recently cloned his hard drive using EaseUS and then used that on his new hard drive. But the SSD he put it on was 250 GB and he can't use the remaining space on it. Can he recover it? Leo says that Acronis can create an image of the drive, keeping the partition. He can use the Windows partition manager to recover the rest of the partition, but if it doesn't work, Larry could try the EaseUS partition manager.

Why does it take so long for my computer to boot up?

Dell Inspiron 17R

Episode 1462

Matthew from Austria

Matthew gave his mother in law a Dell computer Inspiron 17R 571 running Windows 10, but it's taking 5 minutes to boot up. Leo suspects that the spinning hard drive may be starting to fail, with difficult to read sectors. It could also be software that's hanging up the bootup process. Matthew should try using the boot log to see what may be causing the issue. He can get to this by holding the Shift key while its booting, and he can choose to create a boot log on the root level of the drive named bootlog.txt.

Why can't I boot up my Intel SSD?

Episode 1461

Jim from Cameron, WI

Jim is having boot up issues with his computer. He gets an error on his SSD and Leo suspects that the drive is failing and the computer can't see the boot drive. Leo suspects that his SSD isn't meant to be a boot drive since it's an Intel hybrid drive. He shouldn't mess with it. It's not really two drives, it's one drive that appears as two.

Leo says if there's data on the drive, it's going to be tricky to recover it. The Dell recovery disks could help but chances are, he'll need a tech to get the data off it. It would be best to replace it with a dedicated SSD.

Can I use DBAN on an SSD?

SSD

Episode 1455

Mike from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Mike wants to wipe a hybrid SSD using Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). Is that a good idea? Leo says that SSDs are written to differently than spinning drives, and it also uses a technique called "wear leveling," which writes sectors randomly. This makes it difficult to fully and securely wipe a drive to prevent it from being recovered. He can do it to erase a drive, but it won't really remove the data. That's why Leo recommends encryption. Using BitLocker on Windows, or some other technique to secure data with encryption.

What's the difference between a traditional hard drive and a solid state drive?

Episode 1450

Michelle from Northridge, CA

Leo says that all traditional spinning hard drives are basically the same. They're basically like record players, but instead of vinyl, they use spinning metal plates. Those plates are magnetic, so they can be magnetized. They also have read heads, at least one per platter, which are like the needle on the record player. Except instead of reading the grooves in vinyl, they're reading the magnetic signals coming off the spinning platter. Because it's a computer, everything is recorded as 1's or 0's, and it's very easy with magnetic material to have a charge or no charge.