Resetting SSDs to Factory Defaults in DOS

Resetting Solid State Drives (SSDs) to factory default settings is a popular method of alleviating problems related to slow system responsiveness issues such as stuttering or slowdowns. This process is most relevant to older model SSDs, and may not offer any benefits on the more recent crop of SSDs based on the latest controllers. The heart of the idea is not for the software used to do anything to the drive storage directly, but to access the built in reset functions of the controller firmware itself. This is the reason why you shouldn’t just use any old erasing software, such as “Eraser” or similar solutions to try to reclaim performance. I won’t go into the theory of the process; that can be referenced elsewhere. This article simply details the process. For the sake of completeness in getting a fresh start, I like to reset my SSDs whenever I reinstall an OS. Some of you may feel the same, in which case, read on!

Procedure

There seem to be two popular ways to wipe/reset a SSD to factory default settings. The DOS technique uses HDDErase and the Linux technique uses hdparm. I have personally reset my SSDs using HDDErase.

Tools

  • HDDErase 3.3 (for Intel G1 drives/can be used for all drives) Download it HERE.

Today, we will take a look at the DOS technique.

Detailed Instructions

This version of HDDErase is the most finicky software I have used. It took me about a day of research to figure out why the damn thing would not work. Hopefully my adventure in chewing my fingers to bloody stumps will save you some time.

  1. Make a DOS boot disk (floppy, USB or CD). The procedure varies slightly depending on the OS. In Win7 64, an option to make a startup disk is available when you format a floppy. After you do this, transfer HDDErase onto the bootable floppy.
  2. Power off the computer and turn off the power switch.
  3. Disconnect all SATA devices except for the HDDs you wish to wipe – this helps ensure you do not wipe anything you do not intend to. You may be able to wipe only two drives at a time. Connect the drives you wish to wipe to the SATA1 and SATA2 ports on the default Intel controller or primary controller on AMD boards. HDDErase will not see your drives otherwise!
  4. With the power off, unplug your SSD power cable while keeping the SATA cables connected. This step prevents the BIOS from imposing a security-lock on your drive (read up elsewhere for the theory).
  5. Power ON the computer, access the BIOS and under “Storage configuration”, make sure SATA drives are configured in IDE Compatible mode. This is the only way to get HDDErase 3.3 to work. Other options will cause the software to hang.
  6. Set FDD or USB as your first boot device and reboot. Wait for A:> to appear.
  7. Now connect the SSD Power cables (has to be done only after A:> appears!).
  8. At the DOS prompt, type in HDDErase (case insensitive). You should see a bunch of text, hit “Y”, then “N”, and get to the main screen.
  9. At this point, your drives will be recognized on the screen (P0: Drive#1, S0:###, etc.).
  10. Now you will be asked to make a selection on what drive you wish to wipe. Type in S0, P0, etc…
  11. You will see some text and warnings, confirm all prompts.
  12. Now you will be presented with a choice of “Press 1 for secure erase or press 2 for enhanced secure erase” (On an OCZ Vertex, you will be presented with Option 2 only). Choose either option. I used option 2 with no problems on my X25-M (G1)’s and on my OCZ Vertex. This will take less than 2 minutes to complete. There are no progress indicators, you just have to wait.
  13. Once successfully completed, skip reading the log file and exit the program
  14. Type in HDDErase again to erase your second drive. You do not have to reboot yet.
  15. Once done with all drives, Reboot!

You can hot-swap as many drives as you want to get this to work. The point is to ensure that the BIOS does not “lock” the drives.

If you have any questions, please stop by our storage section for assistance, or post in the comments below! Registration required to control spam and enforce discussion quality.

Super Nade

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Discussion
  1. Welcome to the forums!

    You may be right. I have not heard of SSD's failing (yet) so if SSDs are returned, it could very well be user error. If you see older (the very first) JMicron based SSDs that were returned, it is usually because people could not figure out how to alleviate stutter problems. As for the newer ones, the IT market is not doing to good, so they could be from dismantling servers. In any case, it is hard to speculate on their usable lifetime because there is not enough failure data to come to any meaningful conclusion.

    I should have added an addendum to the article on how to reset an SSD in a laptop. It is quite easy, all you need are a SATA cable and a power cable. You can re-purpose the desktop cable extension that has 2 x SATA power connectors and 1 x Molex (Y-connector). The easiest methods would be to use an eSATA port if your laptop has one, or simply put it in an external enclosure.
    I've seen quite a few second-hand (but basically new) SSDs in various shops.

    They can often be seen in pairs, and it makes me think that someone tried to set them up as a raid-0 system and failed. They can generally be had for about 2/3 of the regular price, but I can see the downside of buying an SSD that has previously had an OS installed.

    With this info, it means that you don't necessarily have to buy NEW.

    Thanks for this!