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Secure erase

(also secure deletion, secure wipe)

Secure erase definition

Secure erase permanently deletes data from storage devices, such as hard drives or solid-state drives (SSDs), by overwriting the data multiple times, making it impossible to recover. Unlike traditional file deletion methods, secure erase prevents data recovery through advanced techniques and ensures that sensitive information remains confidential and inaccessible.

Secure erase examples

  • Shredding software: Software tools that overwrite the contents of a file or storage device multiple times, rendering the data unrecoverable. Examples include Eraser, CCleaner, and DBAN.
  • Hardware-based secure erase: Some storage devices support hardware-based secure erase commands, like ATA Secure Erase or NVMe Format NVM for SSDs, which provide a more efficient and thorough erasure method.

Pros and cons of secure erase


  • Ensures complete data removal, protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Provides an extra layer of security when recycling, selling, or disposing of storage devices.


  • Can be time-consuming because the process requires multiple passes for secure data erasure.
  • Not all devices support secure erase commands or compatible software.

Tips for secure erasure

  • Use trusted and reputable shredding software that complies with recognized erasure standards, like DoD 5220.22-M or NIST 800-88.
  • Confirm that the chosen erasure method is compatible with the storage device.
  • Regularly backup important data before performing a secure erase to prevent accidental loss.