Secure Erase

My desktop is coming off lease at the end of the month so I was wiping it before returning to the help desk. I decided to give Secure Erase another shot.
Secure Erase uses ATA commands to purge the data from the hard drive. This is supposed to be both more secure and faster than overwriting the data with 1s and 0s to the DoD standard. Also its operation has been verified unlike the many overwrite utilities that can be downloaded from the Internet.
In order to wipe a SATA drive with Secure Erase, the FAQ says I need to go into the BIOS and change the SATA settings to compatibility mode. Once I did this, Secure Erase was able to see my hard drive. After selecting that drive to wipe, I received a prompt that the system bios prevents this operation and I must reboot for HDDerase to attempt to override the bios. Rebooting didn’t help. It seems some BIOSes freeze out attempts to run ATA commands after an OS has been loaded. The promise of a faster and more secure disk sanitization was nice, but in practice I couldn’t get it to work on my computer. Even if I had found a way to unlock the drive it is more complicated than what the help desk is doing now. With the overwrite, it may take a while but that is non-interactive. It can be left running overnight. Secure Erase would require too many steps before the program could run.


  1. When rebooting for HDDerase to attempt to override the bios try a cold boot (shut down and then switch on) to get secure erase to work. This worked for me when I used this method instead of selecting restart.

Comments are closed.