Securely Erase HDD - Blocked/Locked HDD

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by frank7, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. frank7

    frank7 Registered Member

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    Hello Folks

    I found some time, did clone the faulty HDD mentioned in this thread and did the following the erase its contents before sending it back. BTW this is the HDD I am talking about: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iXhU8z9nmfA/VRh0qOyCR9I/AAAAAAAACDE/oAWQk7N4iZ4/s0/Reallocated Sectors Count.png

    - used Gparted Live CD to format the HDD a couple of times as well as remove and add the partition table a couple of time

    - used Parted Magic Disk Eraser to fill the entire HDD with zeros using the dd command, however that stopped after about 5% since the HDD in the docking station went into sleep mode (grrr!)

    - used DBAN 2.3.0 with DOD short method to wipe the HDD, though that also stopped at about 8% into it since the HDD also went into sleep mode there

    - went back to Parted Magic and this time used the Internal ATA Secure Erase (wipe entire drive at the hardware level) method. This worked out and I got a two logfiles (basic and advanced) saying it did manage to wipe the HDD.
    However it also gave me warnings about the HDD becoming locked or bricked if the HDD was to be removed during the process.
    Since the process took only about 20 seconds the HDD did NOT go into sleep mode and the log files both confirmed that the wipe was successful I assume the hardware level deletion went OK.

    Now when I try to access the HDD in either Windows or Gparted or Parted Magic I simply cannot get it to mount or to be readable.

    Did I really manage to lock/brick the HDD?

    With the above methods used, theoretically how hard would it be for a support technician to try and find some of the data that was on the HDD?

    Can I trust the company I am giving this back to to not try and recover any of the data on the HDD? Should I ask them to give me a letter in writing that any of the data that was on the HDD will never be restored and no attempt at trying to restore the data will be made?

    All I want is the money back for the HDD (they already said I could go this way this guarantee only runs out end of next year) and use that in the shop to buy other goods. But I also want to know that the data on the HDD is gone.

    Yes I know that the only secure way of erasing it is physically destroying it, though I assume with the above procedure mentioned it should be fine, right? Basically I want to make sure as much as I can that the HDD will be very hard to nearly impossible to recover data from it.

    Is the HDD unlocking software that I could use with the HDD that is attached over a USB connection in a docking station?

    http://www.hddunlock.com/ says it can be done, though only with internal HDD and since I don't even have a desktop at hand this option is out of question for me.

    Would it actually make sense at this stage to try and unlock the HDD before sending it in, just to run Gparted or maybe Heidi Eraser on it?

    Perhaps I managed to really lock it after having formatted and nuked it, so chances of successful recovery should be nearly nil if they actually manage to unlock the HDD, right?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  2. frank7

    frank7 Registered Member

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    Went to store and checked with a representative for the company and they said they would make 1000% sure that no data that is given to them on broken or faulty drive ever leaks to any site or the net simply because this would be very very very bad for their image and business as well as their business partners, not to speak about the cost in damages they could be facing if this ever happens and the customer decides to sue.

    I can also have this in writing so I am confident with the above procedure and the confirmation from the store representative (a well established IT & consumer electronics products store round here with many shops all over the county and growing) I can safely give the faulty HDD back and fingers crossed get the money for it back since I already bought a replacement HDD ages ago.

    Concerning the other questions I guess I am fine for now and will ask more concise and guess less questions per post, though they sort of all go together in one category.
     
  3. Snoop3

    Snoop3 Registered Member

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    is this possible? i thought any kind of secure wipe or deletion would take hours.
     
  4. oliverjia

    oliverjia Registered Member

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    Good question. I thought so too.
     
  5. frank7

    frank7 Registered Member

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    Yes I was indeed puzzled by that as well. I thought this is due to the hardware level erasing as opposed to, yes what is actually the opposite of hardware level erasing? Software level?

    Anyhow, I should have taken a pic of the two log file results, those are gone now too since Parted Magic was loaded from CD into a temporarily created partition (I guess), x:, on the RAM and that is gone as soon as Parted Magic is shut down. I should have really saved those log files to a USB stick or something! Darn!

    To sum all this up, I assume the data on it will be hard to recover if at all after what has been done to the HDD?

    Is there any way to unbrick the HDD in the docking station hooked up to the laptop via simple USB connection?
     
  6. Snoop3

    Snoop3 Registered Member

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    maybe try a program like Recuva to see what you can find. there are also other programs that should let you see bit by bit whats still on there - (Roadkil's Sector Editor?) seems like to "erase" or overwrite you are still limited by the HDD's top write speed so not possible to accomplish much in 20 seconds exc maybe quick format and delete partition tables, data etc.
     
  7. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    Frank,

    Are you sure it is the HDD that is bricked? or is it the docking station? Have you checked whether the docking station is working fine?

    I would also recommend you download the HDD diagnostics utility of your HDD manufacturer. Not only do they have secure erase function, they can also maybe fix whatever has gone wrong with your HDD.

    If the HDD was not securely erased, then somebody can in-theory recover your data, but frankly, it is a time consuming operation, so unless you are a govt employee with secrets, I am sure no one will spend time recovering data from your HDD. Just write on the HDD that you have securely erased it before sending it back. They will most likely take your word for it and mark it as erased without even checking.
     
  8. Rolo42

    Rolo42 Registered Member

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    R-Studio is nice for recovery; you can use it's trial to look around and even recover small files. There are many recovery programs; try some.

    ATA secure erase command is for SSDs.

    It sounds like you've gone as far as you can go (if it fails on DoD wipe, I don't know what to tell you if you can't specify a beginning sector and try to wipe after the corrupted medium); you're really trying to make it difficult to recover data rather than impossible--to recover it at that point would cost more than what the data are worth.
     
  9. frank7

    frank7 Registered Member

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    The docking station is working fine, checked with another HDD and all fine.

    HGST provides this tool https://www.hgst.com/support/downloads#DFT but the HDD does not show up.

    Also the HDD does not show up in Gparted or Parted Magic. Basically it does not show up in any of the OSs or live CDs used any more and if Windows failed to show it, it always showed up at least in Gparted or Parted Magic. This means it won't show up in any of the software mentioned. The HDD spins up alright and then keeps spinning fine and silently, there is just no way to access it it seems.

    This behaviour started after I used the internal ATA secure erase command from the Parted Magic CD (did not know this is for SSDs). My assumption is, the HDD is bricked, as outlined in the numerous warning messages provided by Parted Magic's internal ATA secure erase GUI before hitting that "OK" button, hehe. (Reminds me of this https://youtu.be/v0mwT3DkG4w?t=6m24s , clicking wrong button etc)

    At the moment I am not really worried about the data (due to the store rep assuring me and offering to give me this in a legally binding written letter that they have no interest in recovering any data) on the HDD any more.

    BUT out of curiosity and just because I love to fiddle with hardware I am wondering if the HDD can be unlocked / unbricked through the USB connection on the docking station now. Though I think this also seems impossible since I don't have a box where I could slip the HDD into a HD bay, the docking station is the only way for me at this stage since all the HDD unlocking / unbricking toosl I checked need a HD bay and do not work over USB.

    Do you know of a HDD unlock / unbrick software that could work over a USB cable / docking station?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2015
  10. Snoop3

    Snoop3 Registered Member

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    store rep word prob means nothing but also your data isnt likely very interesting.

    if the HDD is essentially worth very little or worthless anyway as most used HDD these days why dont just put it in a vise and crush it?
     
  11. oliverjia

    oliverjia Registered Member

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    Find a strong magnet (degausser, for example) and put it together with your HDD for a while. All data will be gone.
     
  12. frank7

    frank7 Registered Member

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    Physically destroying the HDD would mean I get no money back. This was 180 $ when I got it. I can use that to buy a new HDD or other upgrades etc.

    Store rep word means nothing, but signed company letter would and am happy with that option really.

    No data is of no importance. Not even illegal (torrents, software etc) stuff on there, just used for photos and years of photos on there, family, myself, etc, would not want those to wind up since I am also not a any social network or any of the likes, quite a private person when it comes to online things, never really had an interest in "sharing" my live with others and would not want to be in that position through an unwanted exposure etc.

    Yeah was thinking of a strong magnet. Goes and searches for degausser..

    Concerning that unlocking through USB docking station, I cannot find a single one, free or paid, that supports this through USB.. giving this a pass and moving on.

    Thanks all!
     
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