How Do I Delete Files From My Hard Drive?

Did you know that even when you «delete» files from your computer, they can still be found on your hard disc? In many circumstances, lost files may be restored with little effort since most computer operating systems just destroy connections to the data so they no longer appear to you, but the real data remains on the disc. It is as easy as restoring the links to have access to the erased material.

This technique of deletion is suitable for most situations when security is not a problem, but you wouldn’t want certain people to obtain your bank accounts or medical information.

How to Use an Eraser in Steps

A variety of methods are available to ensure that a file is genuinely gone. Eraser is a free and simple solution that will erase your confidential information with random patterns until the data is no longer recoverable. It is compatible with practically every version of Windows and provides a variety of techniques for overwriting your data, including methods allowed by the Department of Defence.

Eraser interacts well with Windows once installed. Follow these instructions whenever you need to safely wipe data.

  1. Locate the files or folders that you wish to safely delete.
  2. Right-click on the files and/or folders to bring up the Eraser menu.
  3. Highlight and select Erase from the Eraser menu.

Eraser will build and perform the secure erase operation automatically. When the process is completed and the files are permanently deleted, you will be alerted in a popup window.

You may configure Eraser to safely delete recycle bin contents and schedule and automate secure deletion actions.

SDelete in Action

Microsoft offers a downloadable command-line utility called SDelete for customers who do not want graphical interfaces. Here’s how to utilise it.

  1. Select Start > Run…, input cmd, then hit OK or Enter (Return). (Windows Vista and Windows 7 users may just click Start and type cmd into the Windows Search bar.)
  2. Go to the location where you saved SDelete. For example, if it’s in C:cmdtools, type cd C:cmdtools and hit Enter.
  3. Now, type sdelete path to file or directory> and press Enter, where path to file or directory> is a typical Windows path. For example, to remove C:mysecuredata.txt, type sdelete c:mysecuredata.txt and hit Enter.
  4. Once they’ve been erased, you’ll receive confirmation that your files or folders have been permanently deleted, and you’re done!

Now that you have the necessary tools for the task, you may be certain that your data has been successfully deleted from your hard disc and cannot be retrieved by anybody (even you).


Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory
Why Cryptography Is Harder Than It Looks
Cory Doctorow (cory@eff.org), June 17, 2004
National Industrial Security Program
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Communications Security Establishment


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