Secure erase options mac os x

How to Securely Erase Storage Media in Mac OS X

Make sure you really need this level of security before proceeding. By their physical nature, SSDs are inherently secure after a basic erase process. The reason for this has to do with the internal architecture, logical to physical cell mapping, and wear leveling.

How to Securely Erase Data from Your Mac and External Drives

Once the logical to physical map is removed, which occurs during a standard erase, accessing the internal data would just produce a hodge-podge of data that would be nearly impossible to decipher. Erasing a volume by changing the format to include encryption, followed up by a second standard erase, will create a nicely sanitized volume with little chance of data recovery. A better and much faster method to produce a sanitized SSD volume is to encrypt the data on the drive, and then erase it, removing the stored encryption key along with everything else.

Discover more about setting up and using encryption in the Rocket Yard Guide: Data Privacy Day: Simply follow the steps in Erase a Volume: This space sharing has a number of advantages, letting your volumes grow and shrink automatically as needed.

Securely erase a Mac hard drive

But it could also have a security disadvantage. The shared space area of a container could hold old file data, even though the volume that originally contained the information was deleted.


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In the case of an SSD, the logical to physical map detailing the location of any old file was removed when the volume was deleted. And if the volume was using encryption, the encryption key was lost when the volume was removed. Even so, some of you will want to be doubly, or even triply, sure, and erase the container when a volume is also deleted.

This process is only valid when a container houses multiple volumes and the physical drive contains multiple containers. A sheet will drop down, asking if you wish to partition or add a volume. Click the Partition button. A pie chart will appear, displaying any container or partitions on the physical drive. Make sure the container you wish to remove is selected in the pie chart. Click the minus - button to have all volumes housed within the container, as well as the container itself, removed.

Hard Disk Erasing for Macs – Office of Information Technology

The pie chart will be updated to show the outcome. If this is what you intended, click the Apply button; otherwise, click the Revert button to leave the drive untouched. Wiping a Volume, Container, or Drive: Troubleshooting One of the more common problems you may encounter is the failure of an erase or a secure erase process to finish.


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  • In most cases, the problem occurs when the targeted volume or container fails to unmount. Yes, 35 times. And as you might have guessed, it will take 35 times longer to run than the Zero Out option. Generally speaking, I recommend the 7-Pass Erase option. You might also want to consider the legality of reformatting a drive in a system that belongs to another entity, like your employer.

    Now, when you hand your computer over, it will be completely free of any private data and ready to go in a first-run, factory fresh configuration. I run through this process on every machine, hard drive, or storage device that I sell, give away, or donate. Tech, code, design, and geekery.

    All Rights Reserved. Hosted by Joyent. Erasing Disks Securely Although there are a number of methods you can use to truly clean up a hard drive, Mac OS X offers some built-in functionality to do this for you using a straight-forward, although somewhat hidden feature of Disk Utility. Make sure you have a really good backup before you do this.

    Hard Disk Erasing for Macs

    Option One: Launch Disk Utility. Click the Erase Free Space … button. Click the Erase Free Space button. Wait a long time. From the available options that Disk Utility provides, Security Option 1 is, of course, the least secure. Someone will be able to recover your data without much effort. Security Option 4 is the most secure, but it is also widely believed to be a waste of time and electricity. Personally, I always go with option 2, but if you want to feel more confident your data is securely erased, or if you must comply with company rules, use option 3 or 4.

    This works for any hard drive, internal or external. Just be aware that if you want to properly erase the hard drive that is also your startup drive, you will have to start your Mac from an external media first. An external hard drive or thumb drive will do.

    For help creating a bootable external drive, have a look at Apple's page here , or use a popular tool such as DiskMaker X. As you can imagine, having an external bootable drive or installer drive can come in handy. Some people say that the standard erasing of an SSD makes data recovery hard enough for it to be "secure. Technology such as wear leveling , which tries to ensure each memory block on an SSD is used the same amount of times, can really mess with a secure erase.


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    • If we can't be confident an SSD was properly erased, then there is only one route to take that will ensure all data is beyond the reach of anyone: Using encryption. By using FileVault to encrypt the drive startup drive and Disk Utility to encrypt external drives, all the data on the drive will be garbled, unless someone has the encryption key your password. Now, when it comes time to part with your drive, all you have to do is a basic erase in Disk Utility.

      This will delete your encryption key, leaving nothing but garbled data on the drive. Without a way to decrypt the garble, even if all of it is recovered, it will be useless. Of course, you can apply this to hard drives as well, but as those have actual secure erase options available, it's better to use those.