How to properly dispose of a solid state drive

Credit: Intel via Flickr. Click for original.

Credit: Intel via Flickr. Click for original.

Do you have an old solid state drive just sitting around taking up space? Maybe you purchased a low capacity (and now comparatively slow) SSD in the early days and have since upgraded to a bigger, faster model. If you can't think of a way to repurpose your old SSD and just want to get rid of it, cloud backup provider Backblaze has some tips to ensure your data doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

Unlike hard drives, Backblaze says you shouldn't bother drilling holes in your retired SSD or poking holes through it with a hammer and nail. While that's a good way to kill an HDD, drilling holes might only damage a few of the NAND flash memory chips in an SSD. We'd counter that a good pounding with a hammer or strategic drilling (through each chip) would still work, but point taken.

Backblaze also recommends against zeroing out an SSD.

"Erasing free space or reformatting a drive by rewriting it [with] zeroes is an effective way to clear data off on a hard drive, but not so much on an SSD. In fact, in a recent update to its Mac Disk Utility, Apple removed the secure erase feature altogether because they say it isn’t necessary," Backblaze says.

Instead, Backblaze points to encryption as a means of making sure your data can't be read by others. By encrypting and reformatting an old SSD, any old data will be well hidden.

"If you want to rest even easier, re-encrypt the drive after the format, then reformat again," Backblaze says.

You can check your SSD manufacturer's website for tools to help with this, as some of them provide utilities capable of this very thing.

Outside of encrypting (or in addition to), shredding an SSD is the best way to bury your old data for good. There are actually devices built to do exactly that, though they're pretty expensive. Check it out (and enjoy the cheesy background music):

You probably don't have access to a dedicated SSD shredder. In that case, we go back to our original suggestion—beat the chips into a pulp and/or drill through each one.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).