New 11" MBA 2011, Cannot Zero Drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iViking, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. iViking macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    I just purchased a new 11" MBA. There's no thumb drive, so you reinstall OSX via WiFi. No problem. However, I like to do a clean install and when you go to disk utility, although you can select:


    the option:

    Security Options

    is grayed out. Security Options is where you find the option to zero the drive.

    So if it's grayed out, how does one go about writing zero's to the SSD for a clean install?

  2. JD92 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2005
    Why would you want to zero out the SSD if you're just going to reinstall OS X and use it as normal? The only reason I know of for zeroing out a drive is to prevent someone recovering data if , for example, you sell it.
  3. iViking thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    Also cannot customize Lion install

    Also, when I went to reinstall LION via the internet, the "Customize" button was grayed out, which is another enigma because I wanted to install Lion without all the drivers and languages, etc., to save 3-5 GBs of space.

    Any ideas?
  4. EspressoLove macrumors 6502


    Jun 29, 2007
    Bay Area
    He wanted to have a clean install, without crap for newbies and possibly with no Lion.installer occupying a separate partition ...

    I'd create a USB thumbdrive with Lion installer, and start from there ....
    If it still doesn't give you options you look for (Apple was de-geek-ifying even Mac OSX these days agressivey :confused: did they go this far ?:eek:)
    then make a USB drive with 10.6 (10.5?) installation or installer and try disk utility from there ....

    P.S. please report here, as I'm yet to upgrade amongst a lot of us here :rolleyes:
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Zeroing out an SSD is ineffective because of the way data is written to them. It's a larger issue that does require solving before enterprises will adopt SSDs on a mass scale. They are too expensive to physically destroy, but also can be difficult to properly wipe.
  6. Insilin1i macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
  7. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Why would that require a secure zeroing of the drive rather than just a normal erase?
  8. eyespii macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2008
    is there an answer to this? I'm returning my 13" MBA and wanted to zero out the drive before giving it back, but the option is greyed out.
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Use the Erase Free Space option after you delete your files. It's still available.
  10. eyespii macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2008
    It's grayed out as well.
  11. eyespii macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2008
    both security options are grayed out...

    Attached Files:

  12. ntrigue macrumors 68040


    Jul 30, 2007
    I would appreciate an answer to the clean install question. Is it best to just delete GarageBand?
  13. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Perhaps they've disabled the option on the SSDs due to the significant number of writes a zero-ing requires. If what I've read is the case, it would have the potential to significantly reduce the lifespan of the drive, if not render it completely unusable.
  14. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    I noticed when doing an installation of Snow Leopard on the last gen MacBook Air that by default they DO NOT install all the printer drivers. But they do install 1.6GB worth of language translations.

    iLife is not installed by default when you reformat. After you finish reinstalling Lion on your new MacBook Air, you will NOT have iLife anymore. You will have to go to the App store and download it from there (from the purchased section). You will be able to install iPhoto, Garageband, and iMovie separately, so just pick the ones you want and you can skip Garageband.

    Just make sure you go to the App store and "claim" it (it will appear under purchased items when you turn the App store on, and once you log in you will be able to claim it) before you reformat (though I assume it will appear there regardless).
  15. JPizzzle macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2008
    From what I've read you cannot zero out an SSD. This is not just an apple issue from my understanding.
  16. flight macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2010
    There's a discussion here about secure erase and SSD's. There are some interesting links posted regarding the differences between zero-ing hard disks and solid-state drives. The option is likely grayed due to a combination of avoiding wear and the ineffectiveness.
  17. DieterRams, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    Any definitive answer here? I need to secure erase my MBA in order to return it to Apple by late afternoon today. The Security Options button is greyed out, the only one available is just "Erase". I clicked and reinstalled Lion but I'd rather do a secure erase to ensure that my data is completely unrecoverable. Anyone know for sure?
  18. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    There really aren't many good options for an SSD. If you have a Linux boot drive, you could try booting into it and doing a secure erase of your OS X partition. One option to try is to simply copy dummy data to fill the drive, but that isn't 100% effective for the same reason that the wipe free space option doesn't work.

    Is there a particular reason you are returning the Air (seeing as you just recently purchased it)? If it's to replace a faulty screen or something similar, perhaps you can ask them if they can simply swap out the SSD and put it in your new one. They usually don't do that, but it's worth a shot.
  19. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    KPOM, thanks for your reply. I'm returning because I'm thinking I'd rather go for the 13". I bought the 11" to try out. No Linux drive here either.

    So there is no real option? And even if there are some options, none of them really work?
  20. alecgold macrumors 65816


    Oct 11, 2007
    you need to click on 121.33 Gb Apple SSD to be able to pick erase free space.
    Otherwise you can only select to erase, which erases your entire disk.
  21. DieterRams, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    I've clicked on all options on the left and none of them enable the "Erase Free Space" or "Security Options" buttons.
  22. GekkePrutser macrumors 6502a


    Aug 18, 2005
    I zeroed out my 11" yesterday (through Disk Utility) and it worked fine. I did have to boot into recovery mode though, command-R on bootup.

    It didn't show it at first but after I mounted my (FileVault-protected) partition I was able to select Secure Erase from the Erase tab. So it was available but only under certain conditions.

    One thing to note was that after a reboot it wouldn't get back into recovery mode, it had to do the whole internet boot thing (which somehow wasn't compatible with my router, so I had to find another router). It then downloaded a new recovery image and I could then reinstall Lion over the Internet. Took about 2 hours over 25mbit.

    So it must have zeroed out the recovery partition as well, strange because I was expecting for it to leave that alone automatically.
  23. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Probably the best option is to turn on FileVault2 and encrypt the contents of the drive. That way, if someone does access your data, it's encrypted anyway.
  24. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    So it only shows if you FileVault-protect your Macintosh HD partition? Otherwise, it won't show? If so, then only an encrypted partition will be allowed to secure erase and it won't let you for a non-encrypted partition?


    I see, but I guess it's too late for that now right?
  25. AlecEdworthy macrumors 6502


    May 1, 2007
    Leicestershire, UK
    This will be because "securely erasing" an encrypted storage medium (be it flash, SSD, hard drive, CD etc.) can be achieved by trashing the encryption keys. Once this is done the storage device is still full of your data but it is useless because it is just unintelligible noise to all intents and purposes. This isn't secure wiping, it just renders the data useless. In the case of a hard drive, after trashing the keys the hard drive will then go on a perform a secure erase as normal, on an SSD this will not happen AFAIK. The same technique is used for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad for wiping the device (remotely or locally). It just trashes the encryption key once again.


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