How to use Parted Magic's Secure Erase to restore performance of your home lab's abused SSDs

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 22 2015 (updated on Jul 3 2015) in
  • Benchmark
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • Storage
  • Use Parted Magic to help maintain your 2.5" (laptop sized) SSDs in one of many ways:

    • retry an older SSD (pre-2012) that is acting up, or performing slowly
    • reuse an SSD that you want to give to somebody else in your family
    • repurpose an SSD for testing out clean installs, such as the latest Windows 10 build, making sure all its hidden partitions or filesystems are quickly nuked first
    • repurpose an SSD that has whole drive encryption, where you don't care that you lost the data (as seen in the video below)
    • reinvigorate those SSDs you accidentally filled to 100%, which can hamper its performance, especially if it's an older consumer model without the generous over-provisioning that enterprise drives have, to better handle such abuse
    • reincarnate ancient SSDs without TRIM support (it didn't/couldn't work on my early-adopter mid-2009 vintage Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, it's just a brick now, RIP, or should I try SpinRite?)

    Such accidental fill-ups can be too easy to do, in your home virtualization lab for example. Such as happened a few times on my heavy-use vZilla build running ESXi 5.5. Here's my own oops story:

    I was using an older 120GB SSDs for a VMFS datastores. I began to create some thin provisioned VMs, and stuck them on that speedy SSD, pretending I had more storage than I actually did. I wasn't monitoring the datastore for utilization regularly, and I hadn't bothered to configure alerting. Oops! I quickly had myself a completely full VMFS datastore. By the time ESXi complains that my VM could no longer run, it was too late. My speed was already impacted. ESXi warned me to delete some files on that VMFS datastore so that I could then un-pause the VM. That's nice, I was then back in action with no data lost. But still, the SSD's VMs were now running slowly, verified by running ATTO Disk Benchmark in those VMs.

    Before you judge, ask yourself, haven't you ever messed up something a bit in your home lab? I mean, isn't that kind of the point?


    Many SSDs won't handle filling them to 100% very well, and the performance will be degraded from that point forward. This is especially common when you're not using an OS that doesn't really have TRIM support, such as VMware ESXi hypervisor, explained in wonderful detail by Andreas Peetz here, or by clicking the image at right.

    The video below demonstrates one (of many) ways to freshen up the performance of an SSD drive. No Linux skills required to do this. This external solution is particularly handy if you don't have a 2014 or later motherboard that happens to have SSD Secure Erase built-in, like this ASUS Maximus VI Extreme. Yeah, you'll lose all your data on that SSD when you do the Secure Erase I'm about to show you, so to prepare, you'll first want to do a backup (or with VMware, a Storage vMotion of all VMs on that drive) to other datastores. You've been warned. Proceed at your own risk!


    1. Laptop with a BIOS boot order that can allow booting from USB, and has a 2.5" drive bay (for your laptop style SSD)
      (you should shut down the laptop, then remove and set aside that laptop's primary boot drive temporarily, for maximum safety)
    2. USB flash drive you don't mind reformatting (1GB or larger), shouldn't functionally matter if it's USB 2.0 or USB 3.0
    3. Download of free Rufus, a Windows utility you download here, with details about this popular & versatile utilityhere
    4. Download of $9.99 Parted Magic, from here


    Back up the data on the SSD you're about to nuke first, then:

    1. Use Rufus to create a bootable Parted Magic (Linux) USB flash drive
    2. Boot laptop from that USB drive, with the problematic SSD temporarily installed (external USB to SATA adapters won't work)
    3. Use the "Erase Disk" icon on the Parted Magic graphical Linux desktop environment, wiping it clean quickly, commonly able to restore factory fresh SSD performance

    Jul 03 2016 Update

    Apparently Partition Magic has added NVMe support:

    Note the Samsung 950 PRO NVMe M.2 screenshots:

    Image from

    See also at TinkerTry