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I have a Samsung 850 SSD that has recently been dying on me -- there appear to be some memory issues. I'm considering sending in the drive for replacement under the warranty program, but it contains some important unencrypted information. The people at Samsung have assured me that they wipe all incoming disks, but I want to be sure.

As such, I want to wipe the drive before sending it in. The trouble is that due to the drive having memory issues, none of my software can work with the drive. My systems can pick it up as present, but not read from/write to it -- even DBAN can't overwrite it. What should I do?

Is there a way that I can figure out which parts of the drive are still readable? Are there any tools that can write data to malfunctioning drives?

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At a stage where the OS cannot do even raw read/writes to the disk you have usually lost as a normal user. Further access is probably only possible by using special functions in the firmware which only the vendors knows, using a special firmware or getting physical access to the chips, depending on the cause of the problem.

None of these are available to the average user and use of these methods would cause loss of warranty anyway. Your only options at this stage are either to trust the manufacturer or to shred the disk and abandon warranty. Keep in mind that you already trusted the manufacturer in the first place by buying a disk in the hope that the firmware does not contain any backdoor.

  • I'm curious, what would the purpose for a backdoor in the HD/SSD firmware be? If data is encrypted when it is passed to the firmware it's already encrypted. Isn't it?, if data isn't encrypted there's no need for a backdoor, is it? – YoMismo May 24 '16 at 7:02
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  • I didn't know BIOS loaded other device's firmware :/ I thought it handled low level access relaying on the devices firmware (I mean, it just passed on to the device the data so that it write it according to the parameters passed handling its own hardware) anyway according to wikipedia "MS Windows NT, Linux, and other protected mode operating systems in general ignore the abstraction layer provided by the BIOS and do not use it after loading, instead accessing the hardware components directly" so OSs that access directly the components should not be worried about that, should they? – YoMismo May 24 '16 at 10:07
  • @YoMismo: While modern OS mostly don't use the BIOS calls they still communicate with firmware of the disk. This firmware is in full control how it deals with command from the OS. Since all programs (and the bootloader) are loaded from disk there are lots of opportunities to take over control, even with Linux or current Windows. – Steffen Ullrich May 24 '16 at 11:04
  • Is there any other way I can break the SSD without (visibly) voiding the warranty? e.g. exposure to very hot or very cold temperatures? – Newb May 24 '16 at 12:11

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