7 Differences Between Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize

What are the differences between Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize? Data security is very important in making crypto transactions because everything is made online and there are no physical assets involved during the process.

If you lose your keys, you will lose all your money in one go. Therefore, you should not leave your data security to chance if you want to make it big in the crypto space.

Apart from making sure that no one else gets easy access to your crypto account, you should also monitor your crypto data from time to time.

You will need to ‘Sanitize’ your storage from time to time and even Erase a few that are not required so that it is fully functional.

This will give you an assurance that your crypto account and assets are both safe and growing.

Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize are two different yet commonly used terms that you will come across.

These may sound pretty similar but, in fact, there is a lot of difference between them.

If you are unaware of what they are actually and how one differs from the other, you will not be able to manage your data properly.

This article will let you know all about it and also let you know which among the two is a better approach to follow.

7 Differences Between Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize

Differences Between Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize

It is important for a crypto investor and trader to have a clear knowledge about the mapping table first in order to know about the differences between crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize.

If not, you will not know how exactly each of these may affect the performance and improve the I/O.

The mapping table refers to the internal mapping table of the flash device. This table is not at all similar to the MFT or Master File Table since it is not accessible by the host system.

Now, without any further ado, here are a few major differences between crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize that every crypto investor and trader should know.

1. Fundamental Difference

If you consider just the fundamental aspect, crypto Secure Erase is a process in which the mapping table is removed. This is exactly how the operating system finds the location of a particular file stored in the disk.

However, in this process, the other files still exist in the disk because Secure Erase deletes only the mapping table but leaves all other blocks that are already written to.

On the other hand, the basic meaning of sanitizing is that it is a process in which all of the data stored in the disk is Erased.

This means that Sanitize is a process in which not only the mapping table is deleted but it also Erases all the other blocks that may be present in it.

Therefore, once you Erase the selected drive using Sanitize, all data of the users are permanently destroyed and it cannot be recovered.

2. Speed

Crypto Secure Erase is a much faster process in comparison to Sanitize. This is because it only deletes the mapping table.

On the other hand, Sanitize takes a much longer time because it has to locate all other blocks that need to be deleted along with the mapping table.

3. Acceptability

Crypto Secure Erase is a process that is mostly acceptable by the users who need to Sanitize the bare minimum of data.

This is also extensively used since data sanitization is done in the hard disk itself due to the firmware. This results in a quick sanitization as compared to other methods since those processes use specific software to overwrite data.

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On the other hand, Sanitize is a process that is more acceptable because it is more secure. This is a good process to use by those people who are paranoid of the security of their crypto data and are worried about recovering data in the drive by someone else.

However, this process may shorten the life of the storage drive pretty quickly because it overwrites the used blocks which consume its limited number of read or write opportunities.

4. Preference

The method used by one manufacturer may be different from the one used by another manufacturer. However, irrespective of this fact, it is most preferable to use the Sanitize command almost always.

The most obvious reason for which Sanitize is preferred is that it does not affect the performance in any way. For better results, you may even combine several Sanitize commands.

However, on the other hand, the Secure Erase command is pretty old and there are times when the manufacturers may not implement the command properly. That is why it is less preferable and there may also be incidents when it may not even Erase any data successfully.

5. Working Process

The crypto Secure Erase is a data sanitization process that involves a super-set that uses encryption to Erase the key which eventually leaves the data unreadable.

Its working process involves the commands necessary for a Secure Erase. In addition to that, it also comes with a command that can be used in the case of both a hard disk drive as well as a solid state drive, whichever is available.

The commands help the disks to create a cipher key that can encrypt data as it is being written or read. When you access the crypto command, the data cannot be read since the cipher key is destroyed.

On the other hand, Sanitize needs to overwrite the data and therefore it takes more time to complete. The time taken will depend on the size of the drive as well as the number of passes.

The commands used in this specific process are unique and do not limit their usage to most modern drives only. The working process of Sanitize makes it more secure because it does not need to protect the cipher key during operation.

6. Command Execution

Moreover, if the drives are protected differently, there are specific commands to use to enable the drives for secure crypto Erase. For example:

  • The drives that come with data-at-rest configuration or come with or without any protection to tamper evidence are enabled by the TCG enterprise protocols during crypto Secure Erase.
  • There are also a few crypto Erase methods that use band level Secure Erase in order to protect the data of the users while the drive is in use. In this specific type of working process the entire data or portions of it stored in the device is Erased without causing any issues to the other data on the drive that needs to be left unaffected.
  • And, for the drives that come with a specific configuration for repurposing and easy disposal are enabled for crypto Secure Erase only by using the ATA Security commands.

On the other hand, when it comes to sanitizing the disks, the command execution is done quite differently as compared to secure crypto Erase.

Typically, the drive level operation remains the same in all the cases whether you use block Erase for the sanitizing operation and command execution or the legacy security Erase mode to execute the commands.

In order to send the block Erase command, you may also use some proprietary firmware that will instruct the controller of the SSD or any other such devices on the drive.

Ideally, in this process, there is a particular space reserved for the retired blocks, over provisioning, as well as those areas that are typically inaccessible by the user or the host computer.

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However, when the host computer initiates the sanitizing operation process the controller of the SSD itself Erases the bits at the same time from a separate flash component.

This significantly reduces the chances of the risk of rebuilding the data that are usable from the blocks and which are not Erased fully. This is effective even if the detection at the device level is attempted.

7. Steps to Follow

Though different types of SSDs may need you to follow different methods to Secure Erase or Sanitize data, here are the common steps followed for common drives.

In order to Sanitize your SSD, there are a few specific steps to follow. First, you will need to assess whether or not your SSD supports the process. If it does then you will need to follow the following processes:

  • Go to the SSD Dashboard and select the Tools tab
  • Select Sanitize on the Tools tab and
  • Select Erase and follow the instructions to Sanitize a non-system SSD.

However, the last step will differ if you wish to Sanitize the drive in your computer system wherein you will need to select the ‘Create a bootable USB’ option.

When this is done, you should restart the computer with the bootable USB that you have created and follow the instructions to Sanitize it.

On the other hand, in order to Secure Erase your drive, initially, you will need to select the Tools option and then click on the Secure Erase SSD and follow the instructions henceforth.

You must keep in mind during the process that the SSD that you have selected will be in a frozen state. You will need to unfreeze it by following these particular steps:

  • Disconnecting and reconnecting the power cable to the drive
  • Clicking on the Select Drive Refresh button and
  • Perform the Secure Erase process again.

In the end, you will need to restart your computer.

Which is Better – Crypto Secure Erase or Sanitize?

Both the processes of data sanitization, crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize, delete the data from the Solid State Drives securely and then resets the SSD to its factory settings.

Now that you know the major differences between crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize, you should know which will be better for you.

For that, you will first need to know a few other specific and relevant aspects.

Generally speaking, you can follow several different ways to Erase data from your storage device depending on its type such as:

  • You can overwrite data in the storage block by using a bit pattern which is a commonly used process followed if anyone uses an average spinning hard drive.
  • If you are using a NAND flash device, you can perform a block Erase process which will destroy all data physically from the memory cells.
  • If you are using SSDs that keeps a track of the used and free storage blocks, you can delete the mapping between the physical block and the corresponding logical block address which will leave the data intact on the said block thereby making it recoverable.
  • If you are using any self-encrypting drive, you can destroy the encryption key that is stored in it which will leave the data unreadable. However, this may also delete all the block mappings on the drive.

Moreover, sanitizing a storage device is done via a unique set of commands that are in accordance with the protocol of the storage such as ATA, NVMe, and SCSI.

According to the ATA protocol, there are two modes of commands used for Secure Erase. These are:

  • Normal mode – In this mode, it is overwritten with zeros specified
  • Enhanced mode – This mode Erases the prearranged data pattern and also targets those areas that are not used any longer due to re-allocation.
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However, if you are using new ATA drives, you can use three mode commands such as overwrite, block Erase, and crypto scramble.

According to the NVMe specification, the command is defined in two modes such as:

  • Format – This mode is used in the NVMe namespace and itself has three different modes such as user data Erase, Secure Erase, and cryptographic Erase.
  • Sanitize – This mode is used for the whole device which also has three different modes such as crypto Erase, block Erase, and overwrite.

And, according to the SCSI protocol, the Sanitize command is given in three modes namely, block Erase, overwrite, and cryptographic Erase.

Now, take a look at Crypto Secure Erase. This is also quite a popular process among the crypto users to protect their data from being recovered by others.

There are several good reasons that make crypto Erase so popular, which is supported by the ISO and NIST.

  • It is one of the simplest solutions that Erase the root directory only but leaves the user data intact in the drive.
  • It is also a much quicker process because its operation involves simply changing the existing password which is actually the data encryption key.
  • It can work efficiently for any size of drive leaving the data unreadable almost in seconds.

The best part of it is that, as said earlier, it is a method that is approved by the ISO and the NIST, two of the most significant standards organizations.

With their official guidance, you can feel secure about the crypto Erase method even if you are most paranoid about sanitization techniques.

The crypto Erase process provides considerable value to the storage device as well by reducing the wearing down of it and thereby extending the life of the device as such.

Moreover, the process being faster saves a lot of man-hours spent on performing data sanitization as well as addresses those media types, especially those which are quite impractical.

For this, it uses destruction and legacy degaussing techniques.

All these features and aspects of crypto Erase speak in volumes for itself about the liking of this process by the customers and its wide acceptance as well as the reasons for support to it by the most important international standards bodies which reinforce the value of it.

Even the software security specialists acknowledge the importance of crypto Erase while disposing of your laptop, smartphone, laptop, or upgrading any corporate system.

With the rate at which systems are upgraded nowadays, this process will soon become the key in encryption management since it is specifically effective for those self-encrypting drives.

Therefore, make sure you consider your needs and preferences while choosing a data sanitizing process so that you do not need to worry about data security every year.

You will be glad to know that the security of your data is not left to chance.


Crypto Secure Erase and Sanitize are useful processes for data security. However, all SSDs may not support sanitizing it. You will need to check the SSD dashboard to find it and also know the differences between them to use the right process.