How do different drive erase modes work?

Quick Erase
This erase method erases the “index” of the drive. Data can still be recovered using software tools so this option should only be used if the drive is to be repurposed within the same department.

Secure / Enhanced Secure Erase
Secure erase is an overwrite command in the ATA standard that executes a firmware-based process to overwrite the media, replacing all contents with either a 0 or 1. The Enhanced Secure Erase process can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and may include more steps than a single overwrite path. This erase method is considered to be the most secure and fastest “secure” erase method. NIST 800-88 specifications identify this method as compliant for purging ATA and Solid-State drives.

Single Pass Erase
During a single pass erase, a full disk overwrite (usually with all zeroes) is performed on the drive by the dock. Our SATDOCK2REU3, for example, supports standalone single pass overwrite erase. While this method is quicker than a Multi-Pass Erase (see next section) and slower than Secure Erase, it may not be secure enough for some environments. This is an alternative to Secure Erase, if it is not available, and recommended for use before repurposing the drive for use in a different department within an organization.

Multi-Pass Erase (aka “DoD erase”)
A multi-pass erase is a three (or more) pass erase performed on the drive by the dock. The multi-pass procedure on our SATERASER4, for example, meets the requirements of NIST 800-88 Standards/specifications. Under the NIST standard Overwrite and Multi-Pass Overwrite only meet the clear criteria and the ATA Secure Erase command is now the approved method for securely erasing/purging the drive.Typically, the first pass writes all 0s, the second pass writes all 1s, and the third pass writes 0s and 1s randomly. This is different from simply performing a single pass erase multiple times. Some docks that perform multi pass overwrite (three or more) typically write 0x00 then 0xFF then end with random characters.

Note: not all drive erasers will feature all these erase modes. It is important to review the product technical specifications to confirm the available erase modes. Always confirm the chosen erase method meets the specific standard required for your specific application.