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REVIVING OLD DISKS

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In my studio I have storage galore. Old laptop hard disks live in USB-C boxes come in handy for backups etc. More recently USB-C boxes for M.2 NVMe SSD are available at low prices.

Running HDscan shows that old hard disks may have lots of LBA blocks that are > lowest read times. When red blocks surface its time to revive the disk.

SSD prices have fallen so much that I am pondering using them for backups. If not for the abundance of old hard disks.

To clean up hard disks you need Seatools or can use DISKPART in Windows. Disk Manager can identify the disk ID for a given unit. Replace x with the disk to be cleaned:

Open an elevated command prompt:
DISKPART
SELECT DISK x
CLEAN ALL
EXIT


The CLEAN ALL will write zeros to all logical blocks on a given disk. Hard disks and SSD are all the same and are wiped. Be wary that larger 12-14 TB disks can take upwards of 24 hours and larger disks can take 48 hours. Shingled disks are sluggish by nature so they also need an inordinate amount of time to clean.

I have some disks with over 30,000 hours on them and they still work. I use NAS boxes and when problems crop up I move files to a different NAS unit. This allows me to remove all of the disks and clean them up and try resilvering them.

Vendors have their own tools for SSD logic

Intel has withdrawn from the SSD market and their tools are no longer available. Tell that to my boot SSDs.
 
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In my experience, HDDs (esp. lower density ones) have 'indefined' lifespans.
So, what you're saying, makes sense to me.

NtM,
the full "CLEAN ALL" 0 write + bad sector sweep of a full/long format afterwards, makes for a good 'stress test' to ensure the drive's still in good working order.


Note: IIRC, some UEFIs include a "Secure Erase" Utility. I believe it can serve a similar function to SeaTools, DISKPART, etc. (in regards to a 'low-level' format / 0write)
 
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Secure erase is usually only seen in server disks but writing zeros is quite adequate to clean data so even government can do it safely with laptops to be recycled.
The goal is to squeeze as much operating hours as I can from disks and SSD

Better rigs with Windows Pro have bitlocker but wiping these is no different than an unencrypted disk

A full format is not reliable enough compared CLEAN ALL to be sure a disk is operating safely
 
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Secure erase is usually only seen in server disks but writing zeros is quite adequate to clean data so even government can do anything.
The goal is to squeeze as much operating hours as I can from disks and SSD
There's always RAID1/5, etc. for multiples of 'questionable' drives. Exceptionally poor RAID1 performance has been a good indicator of a drive being in worse health than SMART reports, too.
For AHCI (SATA/SAS) the mobo/card-level RAID or ZRAID would be my preference.
For NVME, I'd "Mirror"/"Parity" using Storage Spaces I've had 'luck' with it on unorthodox NVMe arrays and, have researched that it should be a 'lil lighter' on the CPU vs. (consumer-facing) VROC and AMD RAID
 
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RAID 6 is tolerant of 2 disks failing but RAID needs all disks to be identical
"Need" is not really technically correct. It is however, absolutely "Good Practice".
1712104015994.png
At least, Synology recognizes mixed-drive RAID 6 :)

Though, there're "consequences" for running mixed drive(s).
Minimum, loss of array capacity and write amplification (if SSDs are in the mix, and not allotted as Cache by a controller, etc.)

Merely 'similar' or matching capacities is 'preferable' but, I've ran mixed-drive RAID on Intel SBs, RAID cards, and Windows RAID + Storage Spaces.
 
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Its more fun with data center storage where disks are simply yanked and sold off cheap and larger disks are installed
I bought several disks this year to use in my NAS boxes
 
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Note: IIRC, some UEFIs include a "Secure Erase" Utility. I believe it can serve a similar function to SeaTools, DISKPART, etc. (in regards to a 'low-level' format / 0write)
Depends. The ATA/AHCI technically has two commands under the "Secure Erase" umbrella, one called "SECURE_ERASE" which should basically be an all drive zero and supported by all drives and vendors. The 2nd, less supported command "SECURE_ERASE_INSTANT" is usually seen on SEDs or drives advertising ISE capabilities. It's also incredibly common on modern SSDs. If available, it may be used, and in fact erases nothing more than something called the "MEK" (Media Encryption Key" theoretically making the data on the disk inaccessible.

What does the UEFI use? In my experience the answer to that is "fastest available" which almost always ends up being a MEK clear if available.

The reason this isn't just academic is that quantum computers can (at least in concept) easily regenerate a missing MEK. As their cost comes down in the future, it is something to be aware of. Instant Secure Erase may be instant, but it isn't really trimming anything or otherwise secure for the future.

NOTE: I may have butchered some of the ATA command names, its been a while since drive security terminology was a big concern for me.
 

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Killdisk bootable does better for me than CMD clean, though it does take much longer.
 
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If your tin hat is rusty you can write random data to a disk but writing zeros assures controller translation tables can be updated, the cache is separate from the translation tables which are stored on the disk media and loaded when the disk is powered up
 
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Hard disks and SSD are all the same and are wiped.

Secure erase is usually only seen in server disk
:( Ummm, sorry but both of those statements are totally wrong!

You don't "wipe" SSDs! The problem is, wipe is not effective at completely obliterating all the data on the SSD. This is because hard disks and SSDs are NOT the same! They do not use the same protocols to write to the disk.

SSDs use "wear leveling" and TRIM to "evenly" distribute and move data around so no one storage location is written to more often than the other locations. This ensures no one location reaches it's write limit before the others. This greatly extends the expected life of the entire SSD to many years, vs potentially several months. So not only is "wipe" ineffective on SSDs, it is pointless to use a wipe program on SSDs because there could still be sensitive data on it after the wipe program is run.

That takes us to the second totally incorrect statement. Secure erase is seen and is available to all SSDs, not just those used in servers. Samsung's Magician, for example, has the Secure Erase feature for EVERYONE who has a Samsung SSD. If you have a drive from another brand, check their website. Or there are several 3rd party partition programs that have a secure erase feature,

For more information on TRIM and wear leveling, read this: How to Securely Erase Your SSD Without Destroying It (makeuseof.com)

***

For hard drive, one pass of a wipe program is more than adequate, unless the FBI is specifically targeting you. Then do 3 passes.

"Full Format" does not effectively destroy all previous data. "Quick Format" barely destroys any data.
 
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For SSD the best is indeed Secure Erase, after it is new as straight out the box. Used hours and TBW are not going to zero of course...;)

And for an older HDD, just write zero the the whole disk is more then enough, even FBI or anyone can't find anything back with just one pass. How i know this, from a Security Lab that did do test with this. Full or Fast format does not exactly remove all data, it is possible to recover it. For an HDD the best indeed One pass Zero filling. Be aware, with a big HDD this can literally take hours or even overnight. With as SSD Secure Erase is done in some seconds.
 
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Oh really? I've seen that drive for good prices. But I noticed there were some bad reviews so steered clear. Is the sustained write any good?

With low filling a QLC drive can run in SLC mode and so last longer.
(3) Switching between SLC and TLC | TechPowerUp Forums

I have a 2TB TLC drive that I run mostly empty (less than one third full).

resilvering?

Resilvering is the term applied to server RAID boxes when new disks are installed. The controller recalculates the RAID values and starts using the replacement disk. Deepening on the CPU this can take several hours or so. Speed is governed by SATA speed limitations and disk capacity.

In larger shops servers may have 45 disks in a chassis so a row or 4 of servers can have a lot of disks. One vendor had a 4U rack mount server with 45 disks installed for $50,000. Any OS you want.
 
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resilvering?
An old term referring back to antique wall mirrors that actually used silver to create the reflective surface. A glass pane was actually used to protect the silver and [hopefully] keep oxygen out to keep it from oxidizing/tarnishing. It was/is common to see these antique mirrors with dark, tarnished blotches in them. The process to repair these mirrors with shiny new silver is called re-silvering.

In a "mirrored" RAID array, when a new disk was installed to replace one that had failed, the process of recreating the "mirrored" image was called resilvering. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the metal, silver - other than the term.

I first heard the term used by old mainframers some 40+ years ago. I don't think I have heard it since.
 
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I have learned something new
 
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I started with an IBM System 360 with 64KB of memory and only tape for storage. The System 370 had hard disks and tape.
 
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SSDs use "wear leveling" and TRIM to "evenly" distribute and move data around so no one storage location is written to more often than the other locations. This ensures no one location reaches it's write limit before the others. This greatly extends the expected life of the entire SSD to many years, vs potentially several months. So not only is "wipe" ineffective on SSDs, it is pointless to use a wipe program on SSDs because there could still be sensitive data on it after the wipe program is run.
True, however SSDs use what's called Flash Translation Table that maps the LBAs or Large Block Addresses to the actual location of the data in the NAND flash cells. This is continuously updated as data is being shifted around in the SSD.

An SSD Secure Erase command not only wipes the Flash Translation Table effectively making it so that there's no mapping of LBAs to the physical location of the data in the NAND flash cells but it also sends a voltage spike to all NAND flash cells which wipes out any data contained in the cells thus setting all cells back to a state of 00 for MLC, 000 for TLC, and 0000 for QLC.
 
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True, however SSDs use what's called Flash Translation Table that maps the LBAs or Large Block Addresses to the actual location of the data in the NAND flash cells. This is continuously updated as data is being shifted around in the SSD.
Okay. So? First, I think you mean Flash Translation "Layer" not "Table". Either way, not sure the point of your "however". It does not change anything. The point I was making remains the same: You don't "wipe" SSDs.

Well, you can run a wipe on a SSD, but that will not achieve the desired goal of obliterating any and all data on the drive. That requires a secure erase program. Wipe programs remain in the domain of hard drives.
 
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AFAIK all SATA and M.2 SSD and even hard disks all use translation tables to map LBA bocks to known good sectors. The LBA had to be expanded several times as disk capacity grew rapidly.

In reading a disk the call simply is the start LBA and the number of sectors desired. Old sectors were 512 bytes but now devices use 4096 bytes which calls for larger disk transfer areas in main memory.

So storage is block oriented while an operating system is file oriented
 
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I install Windows 11 through the UEFI which shows a command sequence before loading the cold boot loader and starts the OS.

This way the certificate is clear and I can see my operating system is Windows 11 as I am licensed for that

Recently I have been buying old server disks for my NAS boxes

HGST Ultrastar 12TB.png
 
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I install Windows 11 through the UEFI which shows a command sequence before loading the cold boot loader and starts the OS.

This way the certificate is clear and I can see my operating system is Windows 11 as I am licensed for that

Recently I have been buying old server disks for my NAS boxes

View attachment 342345
I have a few of those myself, about to buy 3 more.

I series servers were the pinnacle of stability and security, I missed the tape days but added RAID 5 and upgraded the RAM on a System 370 that wouldn't die. Eventually it got replaced with one of the hairdryer models against my advice, the secretary that was in the office with it demanded it or her be removed.
 
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