Safely Retiring (or Duplicating) IDE or SATA Hard Drives Part 2

In Part One, I discussed the importance of being able to duplicate IDE hard drives to SATA drives.  It’s equally important to be able to duplicate just between SATA drives.  For example, an organization may have a standard system disk drive with operating system and applications pre-configured.   By being able to make as many as five copies at a time, upgrading customer computers or creating new computers, using copies of a drive image, could save lots of time.

The focus of this blog, however, is on retiring old drives and drive sanitizing.  In the previous blog, I wrote about being able to take an ‘old’ drive and making copies onto new SATA drives.  The question, after completing the copies, is what to do with the old drive, once it’s no longer needed.

You can’t just reformat it — the data is still on a reformatted drive, and a dedicated thief can fairly easily recover the data from it.  Such thieves – or industrial spies – or whatever you may call them, have access to tools that can retrieve data from drives that aren’t properly wiped clean of data.  Aleratec’s 1:5 HDD Copy Cruiser IDE/SATA drive duplicator is equipped to ‘sanitize’ up to six hard disk drives at a time.  Sanitizing hard drives wipes all traces of data from the drive, making it virtually impossible to retrieve data from the drive.  The device can even sanitize a mix of IDE and SATA drives at the same time.

A feature called Secure Erase can be executed by the Aleratec duplicator.  It issues commands built into the firmware of most SATA, and some IDE drives, that launch a routine which removes all data on the drive much faster than traditional overwriting.  Secure Erase is run entirely by the drive being sanitized.  A drive on which a Secure Erase has been performed can be safely ‘retired’ or put back into use on another computer.

For drives that don’t support Secure Erase, Aleratec offers a choice of three hard drive overwrite algorithms.  One algorithm performs a one-pass wipe, overwriting the drive once.  A three-pass wipe with verify takes the task of sanitizing even further, by overwriting the drive three times.  Finally, a seven-pass wipe provides a level of sanitization that meets the Department of Defense 5220-22M sanitization recommendation.

With organizations planning to decommission their IDE drives, being able to sanitize up to six drives at once is both safe and prudent.  It is also a considerable time saver.  With an optional adapter, the Aleratec drive duplicator and sanitizer can even sanitize 2.5” IDE (usually found in notebook computers or embedded into devices like digital copiers and fax machines) drives.

Being able to support both IDE AND SATA is impressive.  I’m impressed.  As I noted in my previous blog, I haven’t written about a specific Aleratec product before now.  However, this product’s utility and functionality make it an attractive addition to the disk management product lineup at many organizations, and I’m happy to focus on it.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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