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I had a disk experience a predictive failure. As a result, I removed the drive and replaced it.

Now that I have the drive removed, I would like to sanitize it. What is the easiest way to go about that?

I have a usb to SATA converter, but I'm not sure if that would work. But all I really want to do is execute the secure erase command.

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5 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You're going to need a host with a SAS controller or an eraser appliance that supports SAS. As Chris S is pointing out, you can use SATA drives with SAS controllers, but not the other way around.

As far as secure deletion, one pass with zeros will stop the amateurs, if you're worried about a TLA, make it one pass with random data, more if you're paranoid. What you really have to watch out for is remapped sectors...if you can't wipe those and the data is sufficiently sensitive, you should probably physically destroy the platters as Kromey suggests. Outfits that deal with classified data usually have special arrangements with the manufacturers so that they only return the part of the drive case with the label when getting warranty replacements.

Note that Guttman patterns were designed for MFM/RLL drives...I think I've read somewhere that he recommends overwriting with random data is the best you can do, but I don't have a citation handy at the moment.

Note also that I'm assuming you're talking about a conventional mechanical drive...an SSD is a whole different deal.

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A USB to SATA converter will not work for erasing a SAS drive. Ditto connecting it directly to a SATA machine. You will need to find another SAS connection to securely erase the disk.

Alternatively, you could physically destroy the disk's platters through any of a million creative (and oftentimes stress-relieving) methods.

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A USB->SATA cable will not work on a SAS drive. –  Chris S May 11 '11 at 18:37
    
@Chris Oops, got my acronyms mixed up. Will edit my answer to address. Thanks for the correction. –  Kromey May 11 '11 at 18:38
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+1 for Physical Destruction / Stress Relief. Nuke it from orbit...its the only way to be sure. –  ErnieTheGeek May 11 '11 at 19:11
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Thermite - it's fun AND functional! –  bta May 11 '11 at 22:47
    
+1 My colleagues and I spend endless hours debating the pros and cons of various destruction techniques. I actually did try thermite once, though without certain chemical additives, it isn't actually that great at melting stuff. –  Puddingfox May 12 '11 at 0:08
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Unless it's SUPER important data I'd be tempted to just forget about the sanitation and let it be wiped/destroyed by whoever you return it to - it's part of a R5 array, there's a limit to how much data could be got from it anyway.

If it IS super important then I'd destroy it myself and replace with a new one at cost - it's the only way to be sure.

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This could've been a comment on Kromey's question, but I wanted to emphasize the advantages of: disassemble the drive.

First, it's a bit of fun, getting to take a precision device apart and not having to worry about whether it works when it goes back together. It's a good excuse for the company to buy a good set of Torx screwdrivers which are often handy for other things.

Second, when you take the drive apart, you can scavenge the voice-coil magnet(s) used in the head positioning mechanism. They're powerful rare-earth magnets, incredibly useful, even if all you want is a super-strong fridge magnet. Once you have a bunch of voice coil magnets, you can use them to wipe the platters.

It's a win-win-win, especially when you include the possibility of wiping your friends' credit cards!

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Since it was part of a raid 5 array it wont have any recoverable data on it anyway.

If you still think it needs to be destroyed, try a sledgehammer.

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