7 Pass Secure Erase - good enough to return hard drive?

Discussion in 'OS X' started by kbmb, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. macrumors 68030

    kbmb

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #1
    So I may have one of the Seagate hard drives that are failing badly. Haven't heard back from Seagate to see if my drive and firmware is bad, but since I just bought the drive, I'm thinking of returning it.

    I'm in the middle of a 7 Pass Secure erase on it (1TB).

    Do people feel comfortable returning a drive after doing that erase? Or should I just forget about it and destroy the drive and chalk it up to a loss?

    -Kevin
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    apsterling

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    #2
    Maybe do that then Zero the drive to make sure?
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location:
    phased to this universe
    #3
    Isn't 7 pass the standard for government data disks? I don't think the guy at the local best buy is going to recover anything. You're safe.

    BTW - how long is it going to take?
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    #4
    You have to ask yourself... what data are you so worried about being uncovered?

    7 passes of zero's is the DOD standard. You're fine with that.
     
  5. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #5
    One pass would've been enough. To recover data after a one-pass wipe the person would have to perform the data recovery in a clean room and would have to physically dismantle the hard drive.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    dvdhsu

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #6
    7 Pass is definitely enough. The only reason I would 7-pass it would be if I had illegal things on my HD, and I was knew that somebody was trying to get my information.
    It that is your case, then by all means go ahead and zero it out.
    Otherwise, it is good to go.:)
     
  7. macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #7
    Data can be recovered if the disk has been "zeroed", this is done by examination with special electromagnetic equipment to determine what the previous binary state of the magnetic tracks were. So a really determined person could get at your data - but I don't see the guy at your local electronics store splashing hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on the equipment.

    Of course, you may as well do the 7 pass erase just for fun. I really need to keep my data secure, and it's what i do.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    #8
    Well, what kind of security issues are we talking about here? If you own a company that deals with touchy information and you're afraid your competition might get the drive from your hardware supplier, which could hurt you a great deal (financially), destroy the drive yourself. But I'm pretty sure you would be aware of that fact if you were in the described position.

    If you simply want to make sure someone doesn't get a hold of your online banking certificate and some raunchy pictures of your girlfriend, a 7 pass secure erase is more than enough. There is no absolutely no way a prankster at the local computer shop can find anything with data recovery software on your drive after this procedure and as other people mentioned - the odds of him paying loads of money for professional data recovery are extremely low.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    #9
    I just read about an article related to this topic. I didn't read the article myself, but only about it:

    The article:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/408263ql11460147/
    The article about it (only in German):
    http://www.heise.de/newsticker/Sicheres-Loeschen-Einmal-ueberschreiben-genuegt--/meldung/121855

    Apparently they tried to reconstruct data after a one pass overwrite using some very low level methods (magnetic mircoscope). Their conclusion is that for practical purposes it is not possible to reconstruct complex data.

    Also the wikipedia article on data recovery states that the possibility to reconstruct overwritten data has been suggested in 1996, however, even until today no one proved to be able to do so.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_recovery

    If this information is right, you should be perfectly fine with your 7 pass overwrite.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 68030

    kbmb

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #10
    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    No, nothing illegal on the drive. :p

    It was being used as a secondary backup to my Time Machine drive. So I had manually copied over everything in my home folder (all Mail, documents, etc), as well as a backup of the drive that holds all client work (this is my business computer).

    @mcavjame - it's a 1TB drive, and Disk Utility has estimated 16 hours. I still have 4 hours to go.

    Basically, I just don't want either the Best Buy Geek Squad trying to look at the drive because they are bored on their lunch break :p or that they sell the drive again as a return and some geek gets it knowing that it's been returned and wants to poke around.

    Thanks everyone for the info.

    -Kevin
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    #12
    As people have mentioned above, this idea of "ghost electromagnetic signatures" forever remaining on a disk is more of an urban myth than actual science. Even if this phenomenon were physically valid--and no one has yet been able to demonstrate that it is--modern HDDs are so high-density that it would take millions of dollars worth of bleeding-edge magnetic resonance force microscopy equipment to even attempt to undertake such a procedure.

    So unless you work for the NSA and just happen to have the schematics for the nuclear football on your drive, I'd say 7-pass erase is secure enough.

    Edit: Wow, according to that 2008 Notes in Computer Science paper posted above--a real interesting read--the probability of recovering a single continuous KB (1024byte) of data post-wipe from a used circa-1990 drive by magnetic resonance force microscopy is around 1.400E-258. Damn!
     
  13. macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    Up the irons
    #13
    After reading this thread I had a good chuckle at the Google ad.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Location:
    Wisconsin
  15. macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #15
    Thanks - morale of the story here is than zeroing out the disk is enough.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    #16
    Why don't you wait for Seagate to respond? I have 3 of the drives on the possibly buggy list. But unless the drive has failed, there is no problem at this time. Once it has the firmware update, the problem is solved. If the drive controller fails before then, Seagate will fix it. The data is not lost.

    But, if you don't have access to Windows or don't want to deal with the firmware update, then returning may be best for you.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 68030

    kbmb

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #17
    That's what I'm doing for right now. Here's hoping that they actually resolve the issue with new firmware.

    I have a feeling Seagate is losing a fair amount of customers with this. I know I'm going for a different brand the next time I need a new drive.

    -Kevin
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    #18
    I have settled on Seagate as my preferred brand after having plenty of Maxtor deaths, hearing about the IBM deathstar incident, having a sudden death IBM SCSI drive, and a lot of dead WD Caviar in the late 90s. But I have never had a Seagate die on me (yet). Now that I use Seagate almost exclusively, I guess it is only a matter of time.

    Of course, times change, and perhaps Seagate is slipping. But considering this current incident is a firmware problem on the controller, and not a data integrity problem, I'm not going to take it in to consideration, as long as Seagate addresses it properly.

    On the third hand, this is the 2nd significant firmware problem with this drive series. The first problem was that the early firmware on some of the drives would only use half the cache memory on the drive.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
  20. macrumors 6502a

    geerlingguy

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    The Midwest, USA
    #20
    Unless you have top-secret CIA information on the drive, and someone would be willing to invest some serious time and $$ into getting the data from your drive, one pass would be fine.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 68030

    kbmb

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    NH
    #21
    Thanks for the input everyone. I'm awaiting to hear back from Seagate on a firmware fix and for now will be keeping the drive.

    For anyone that is curious, Seagate has finally acknowledged a problem with some of the Barracuda 7200.11, DiamondMax 22, Barracuda ES.2 SATA, and
    SV35 series drives. You can see the list here:

    http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=207931&Hilite=

    -Kevin
     

Share This Page