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Reclaiming locked Intel 320 SSD (aka. How to wipe and re-use a password-protected drive, even if all data is lost?)

Community Manager

Our tech refresh program has begun to incorporate SSD drives into our end user communities. A bit late into the game, so I apologize for being a newbie.

One of our first SSDs was the Intel 320, replacing a 160GB SATA in an aging Dell laptop. The drive was configured with a new ATA Password in accordance with Intel guidance ("In order to lock access to the user data you do need to enable an ATA Password." /thread/20537?start=15&tstart=0 The laptop died last week and we replaced it with a new Dell. The end user feels certain they remember the password used, yet the drive refused to accept the password in the new Dell, locking after 3 tries. We tried swapping this into a different, similar Dell to the original to no avail. It may not be the case, but it appears that there are similar issues now known about setting ATA Passwords for this drive, but that the causes are vague:

There is no critical data on the SSD. I called Intel SSD Support (916-377-7000) who claimed that it was no longer a usable product as it must be unlocked. I vaguely recall reading reports or questionable origin that suggest using some combination of Linux HDPARM utility and possibly power cycling the product without shutting down the machine would unlock the drive long enough to permit a Secure Erase. (Something along the lines of what this user did:

Ignoring any value of the data, is there a way to reclaim the drive, resetting the ATA password and essentially wiping the data?

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Community Manager

Since many implementations of ATA password locking functionality seem to be limited to 8 characters, does someone know of a brute-force ata password cracker for the user password? This should be nearly effortless, frankly.


Considering that this is for legitimate purposes, I don't feel bad asking such a question on a public forum. We should all be a lot smarter about protecting our data than falling under the illusion that a 8char pw will save us, rather than just mildly irritate a professional.