Devon
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Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:16 am

Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:32 am

Few weeks ago I came back to my system after leaving it idle for several hours to see it BSODd. Upon rebooting, I got S.M.A.R.T. errors stating my 2TB Samsung NVMe M.2 970 EVO might be about to fail. Disabling SMART checks and trying to boot resulted in a flashing underscore in the top-left before being redirected to my UEFI. Using a Ubuntu live boot drive, I was able to mount the M.2 and recover all of my data.

However, the issues I'm having is erasing that data... In order to RMA the $500 drive, Samsung requires that I send it in. The issue is that I have a lot of sensitive information on the drive (client names, addresses, SSNs, tax information, etc). Because I'm responsible for that data, I can't send it in on good faith. I know they have policies in place to protect user data, but I don't trust people that much. If it were just my data, sure... but I'm not going to risk it when other peoples information is involved.

That said, I've tried removing the read-only state using diskpart and other tools... I've using the Secure Erase tool in Samsung Magician, it errors with a code (26, I believe?). I've tried EaseUs Partition Manager, Parted Magic, Nwipe, I've even tried writing /dev/zero to it using dd... but everything fails to write to or erase the drive and I can't figure out how to remove this (seemingly low-level) write protection.

Can anyone point me into the right direction as to how I'd go about securely erasing my data so that I can send the drive in for an RMA?

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lcoughey
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Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:31 pm

The odds are, the drive is stuck in read only mode because of a firmware glitch that is not repairable. As I see it, you have two choices. RMA it and trust Samsung to destroy the data or destroy the SSD yourself and buy a new one.

Devon
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Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:16 am

Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:32 am

I've gotten mixed responses from reaching out to their support.. at one point they avoided the question entirely, another time they said there's no reason the drive would go into read-only mode, and another time I was told it's a feature to protect your data when failure is detected. So I honestly don't know what to believe.

All I know is I shouldn't be forced to choose between security and being eligible for a warranty. To add to it, they've now stated that "Companies have different policies and procedures when it comes to sending in drives for RMA procedures. By law they cannot break those policies and the RMA procedure is done differently." So because I don't work for a company, the work I do as a freelancer doesn't matter to them. Which is mind-blowing because I've signed NDAs which also give me a LEGAL obligation to protect their data.

This reminds me of the consumer rights issues with Apple throttling their iPhones, supposedly to preserve battery, but it was argued that it's a ploy to get users to buy a new phone. If this is a "feature" that Samsung implemented to "protect your data" without implementing a way to remove the lock or destroy the data, then they're essentially forcing a consumer to chose between their obligations to keep their data secure and being eligible for a warranty replacement, thus having to buy a new device.

Steuck
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Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:02 am

Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:24 am

What are the odds of Samsung misusing your data though? Aren't these procedures essentially automatized and the data is not even looked at?

Devon
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Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:16 am

Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:34 pm

Perhaps, but companies employ multiple layers of hardware, software, policies, and legal protections to protect their database, product schematics, etc. too... Yet we hear about hacks and data leaks all the time. If data that I've signed an NDA to protect is leaked, I'm going to be the one held accountable, not Samsung.

What's worse is they admit that companies with legal obligations to protect the data have a different return procedure. I stated that as a freelancer, I am a business too, and I have the same legal obligations to protect the data. Even explained to them that in the state I reside, freelancers are not required to register with the state to conduct business; but offered to register if it would make a difference to them. They asked that I type a formal letter explaining my legal obligations for them to submit to another department... despite taking the time to do all that, they still denied my claim and refused to provide me with a reason for the denial - so I couldn't even determine if it were something I overlooked or a requirement that I could satisfy.

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Jared
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Samsung 970 EVO Stuck in Read-Only

Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:48 am

In any sort of NDA situation, if you can't wipe it, I'd opt to destroy it myself. Better to take a $50 hit on the lost hardware than risk a $1M lawsuit.

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