Drive eRazer Ultra
January 02, 2012
Wiebetech (CRU Dataport)Product:
- Ease of Use:
- Value for Money:
- Overall Rating:
- Strengths: Simple, standalone, fast and secure disk erasure. Excellent ease of use
- Weaknesses: No SAS/SCSI support, not yet formally approved for government use. Free alternatives available in software. Too expensive for casual users
- Verdict: A great product for those that regularly need to securely erase disks and don’t want a dedicated PC for the purpose
Wiebetech's Drive eRazer Ultra is a small standalone product that securely erases IDE and SATA hard disks. The eRazer Ultra is a small (11cm x 7.5cm x 2.5cm) device supplied with a separate universal voltage power adaptor. The eRazer Ultra enclosure is described as "briefcase tough" and is certainly rugged enough to survive the typical IT technician's toolcase.
The top of the device features a two-line backlit LCD display, power switch, four function buttons and five LED status lights. The power adaptor connects on the right-hand side, with IDE, SATA and power output connectors on the rear (for laptop drives and other smaller devices, a range of adaptors is available at additional cost). The front features a USB socket, as the eRazer Ultra can double as a USB drive adaptor allowing the drive's contents to be checked before wiping, a useful feature to avoid expensive and irreversible mistakes. Finally a nine-pin serial port is on the left-hand side to allow a printer connection, which produces detailed logging labels for each disk erased (a free utility will parse the output into a text log file if required).
Using the eRazer Ultra is very straightforward. Once a drive is connected and the device powered up, the LCD display shows the current default erase method. Pressing the Enter button leads to a confirmation prompt, and pressing it again starts the disk-erase process. After a short calibration phase the 'per cent complete' and estimated time to erase are shown. Testing with a range of different drives and erase methods confirmed that the estimate shown is accurate, a useful feature for busy IT staff.
The eRazer Ultra supports a wide range of disk erase standards (although several of the supported standards equate to the same process), including those specified by the US, Canadian and UK governments. Where the drive supports it, the ATA secure erase option can also be used. At the time of review, the device had not been formally evaluated by the various national authorities, but Wiebetech's previous model has been successfully evaluated by NIST, and eRazer Ultra will be going through similar evaluations by UK and US authorities.
Full details of the connected disk, including SMART diagnostic status, serial number, capacity, etc can be reviewed on the LCD display. This is a useful feature, particularly for checking that the drive is not logging any errors, as the various Government erase modes are only approved for use on fully functional disks.
The disk information menu also shows the size of HPA and DCO areas, if present (these are drive areas hidden from normal operating system access which could still potentially hold sensitive data).
A particularly useful feature, and one absent from the freeware alternatives, is that using the quick, custom and ATA secure erase modes, the HPA/DCO can be wiped as well.
Testing the drive with a wide range of IDE and SATA drives was straightforward, with erase speeds comparable with the disks' rated performance (up to 4GB/min even on older drives for a quick wipe). While the erase times were comparable to a PC running a disk erase tool such as DBAN, using the eRazer Ultra didn't tie up a PC for hours at a time. Verification with disk forensics tools confirmed that eRazer was performing well.
There are a few minor issues with eRazer Ultra. Separate detachable power cables are used for IDE and SATA, rather than a double-headed power cable, which increases the chance of one going missing, and drive capacity is shown in bytes, not gigabytes, but these are minor concerns.
The only major issue affecting customers interested in the government-approved wipe methods is the current lack of formal approval, but this is not a problem for corporate users. One potential issue for corporate use is the lack of support for server drive interfaces such as SAS and, less common these days, SCSI.
The eRazer Ultra is a great device for securely wiping hard drives of all types with minimum effort and without using a dedicated PC for the purpose. While this can be performed on a PC using free or commercial software, the eRazer Ultra removes the need to tie up a PC for the hours required to wipe larger drives and makes drive erasing simple enough for anyone to perform, and is a one-off expense rather than 'pay-per-drive'. If you have a regular need to wipe IDE and SATA drives, it is well worth considering.
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