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SSDs seem to be notoriously tricky to properly erase (see for example this question and answers here). An easier and potentially safer solution could be to physically destroy the SSD device.

I am looking for a way to physically destroy an SSD device that..

  • can be done at home / in an office (with limited emissions),
  • doesn't require any specialised equipment (standard homeworker tools would be ok),
  • provides at least as much safety of destroying all the data as the current software erasure options.

The goal is not to protect against state-level actors, but to provide secure physical data disposal options for average home users or small/medium sized businesses. And it should be practical (of course we can dispose of an SSD in an industrial furnace, but ... - you get the gist ;)).

This question was once asked and answered for HDDs, but in todays times the more relevant question is likely how to get rid of SSD or M2 drives.

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The most practical option for physically destroying an SSD is to simply use a hammer. If you can, open the SSD and locate the data-bearings chips and make sure that each chip is sufficiently destroyed. If this is a service you are offering to businesses, however, beware of legal requirements for both data disposal and recycling, and consider investing in something more robust like a drive crusher.

In order to disassemble an SSD, I recommend following this tutorial. When you have removed the drive from its enclosure, I would simply smash anything and everything on this board. It will be significantly easier to destroy the circuit board this way compared to trying to destroy it while it is still inside its enclosure.

A fully disassembled SSD d

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    IMHO this answer could be made better by better explaining how to disassemble the SSD and how to locate the data-brearing chips for destruction. – fgysin reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 12:15
  • @fgysinreinstateMonica Thank you for the suggestion! Done. – Joshua Murphy Feb 6 at 13:16
  • Instead of looking for an exotic screwdriver, you could probably just smash the enclosure with a hammer until you can get the circuit board out, then smash the circuit board with a hammer. That way you get double the fun (potentially). – user253751 Feb 6 at 16:48
  • @user253751 that works too! – Joshua Murphy Feb 6 at 20:34
  • Perhaps take an angle-grinder to the ICs? That's less likely to leave salvable chunks than a hammer is. – Toby Speight Feb 7 at 13:17
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  1. Hit it with a hammer
  2. Repeat Step 1
  3. For extra security, set the remains on fire
  4. Put the ash into the toilet

If you don't have any intentions of ever re-using that medium, just destroy it completely. It's not hard to properly destroy electronics if you hit hard enough.

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    How certain are we that hitting an SSD drive with a hammer a bunch of times will actually reliably make it unusable? SSDs are a lot more shock-resistant than HDDs were, and some of them also come in metals housings which, although a lot less sturdy than the HDD ones, protect them from this. – fgysin reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 12:12
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    Also when have you last set something on fire in your office? How did that go for you? – fgysin reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 12:14
  • @fgysinreinstateMonica You didn't mention "an office", you mentioned "at home". And I can readily go outside of my home to my garage to set something on fire. Furthermore, if you repeatedly smash the chips with a hammer until there is nothing left, in addition to already erasing everything securely, the chance that someone would be able to read a single meaningful byte is neglectibly small. – MechMK1 Feb 6 at 12:17
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    Yes I did, it's up there in the OP (although not in the title). I even asked for limited emissions - setting electronic circuitboards on fire is pretty much exactly the opposite of that. – fgysin reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 12:18
  • Then don't set it on fire. The hammer alone should do it. Also "at home / in an office" can be interpreted as either / or. – MechMK1 Feb 6 at 12:20
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If you really want to be sure the data is unrecoverable, take the drive to a place that does document and hard drive shredding. They'll put the drive through a machine that will shred it into hundreds of tiny pieces:

enter image description here

At some places, they'll ask you to leave the drives, and they'll tell you that they'll shred them for you later. Obviously, I'm leery of those. Other places will shred the drives for you on the spot, while you watch.

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  • While that is certainly a good solution I don't have an drive shredder at home, and neither do most businesses... – fgysin reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 7:27
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I personally use a hammer to expose the chips, then put the remains in saline solution (brine) and throw in a couple of AA batteries. Leave to rest for a couple of days. Dispose.

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