How to format completely USB flash drive so its unrecoverable?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Macs4u, Sep 14, 2016.

  1. Macs4u macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2008
    Stoke on Trent

    I have a Corsair Survivor 32GB USB Pen and its faulty. Turns out its not that good at surviving normal use. I have to send it back for a replacement but I have had pics of my family on there. I know if i format it , its not that hard to recover the files. How would i totally wipe it so its unrecoverable so nobody can view my personal files if its fixed and sold on.

  2. DevNull0 macrumors 68020

    Jan 6, 2015
    Only way to be 100% sure is break open the plastic housing and drive a large nail through the centre of each IC package. This will void your warranty, so it's up to you how much of a security tradeoff you want.

    When I worked for the government on the computers that store social insurance information (in Canada), our service contract allowed us to put several nails through a hard drive and still get a warranty replacement.
  3. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    So, let's see... the people in the returns processing department of whatever retailer you purchased this $35 item from are just waiting to see what great files people send them on returned merchandise? They're sufficiently computer-knowledgable to know that, even if the thing seems empty, they can run a disk recovery utility to find whatever it is that was on the thing? And their employer is happy to let them use company time to run the investigation, or to let them take the stuff home so they can do it in their spare time?

    Most likely, if these things get reused at all (at that price, the cost of reprocessing/repackaging may not be profitable), the procedure is to automatically reformat them - no looking to see what's on the drive prior to reformatting - just blast the sucker. That probably wouldn't be done by the retailer, more likely they'd just pack 'em up and send 'em back to the manufacturer.

    But yeah, there's always that remote chance...

    If you don't want to encrypt (though it's a perfectly reasonable approach), you can do a regular delete of the files, and fill the drive with stuff you don't care about, like copies of software installer DMG files. Then reformat. It's just 32GB, it shouldn't take long.
  4. RedTomato macrumors 601


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    I don't know how much you paid for yours, but the new ones are USB3 and £20 for 32GB on Amazon. Is your family privacy worth £20?

    To be honest, Corsair probably sells them at £10 each to suppliers, so it likely will not be worth any staffer's time to attempt any kind of repair then repack it for sale. As soon as they get it back, they'll probably just chuck it straight in the bin and send you a new one.

    The reason for wanting it back is a) so they can verify you haven't just lost it or burnt it in a fire, and b) so that at the end of the day you end up with one working drive in your possession, not with two working drives through some creative lying.

    Their accounts will make allowances for defective unit replacement, but for audit, tracking, and verification purposes, the defective unit has to go back into their possession before being discarded.

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4 September 14, 2016