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So I know that there are many utilities that can delete files securely by zeroing the location (on a regular hard drive here), and there are many utilities that can scan a drive to find 'deleted' files where the location has not been zeroed.

Is there a way to securely delete all the files that were really only 'partially deleted' before?

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FYI: This process is called "wiping free space". There are lots of utilities that can do it. Just filling the driver with one massive file (overwriting all the free space with data) and then deleting that is a quick and dirty way to accomplish this. – Chris Nava Jul 29 '11 at 22:31
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can use SDelete with the -z switch to wipe unallocated disk space. Allocated disk space would already have other file data there, so you do not have to worry about that.

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Why does it not delete the file names? (liking the username) – soandos Jul 29 '11 at 20:22
@soandos: What filenames? Once a file is deleted, it does not have a filename, as it is removed from the master file table. – paradroid Jul 29 '11 at 20:25
@soandos: Paradroid was actually a computer game which I used to play way back in the '80s, but I like the way the name has various meanings - – paradroid Jul 29 '11 at 20:26
"Note that SDelete securely deletes file data, but not file names located in free disk space.", and the game sounds good – soandos Jul 29 '11 at 20:29
@soandos: I think it doesn't delete the filenames as it does not touch the MFT. Read the last two paragraphs. – paradroid Jul 29 '11 at 20:36

I would use the good old standby: CCleaner. It has a utility that wipes free space. Go into Tools>Drive Wiper. You can have it make 1, 3, 7 or 35 passes. It defaults to this, but make sure you select "Free space only".

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You can use a software called Recuva from Piriform to show you all recoverable files. You can then mark them all for safe deletion within the software.

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I would prefer not to have a multi-pass solution ("Recuva overwrites the portion of the hard drive where the ghost of 2009BUDGET.xls lives repeatedly..." as its not really needed. – soandos Jul 29 '11 at 20:32
That's the most secure way to erase a file. Recovering files overwritten with 0s once is still posible (if not cheap). But I understand you want to preerve your disk. Try the other software from Piriform, called CCleaner. It allows you to specify the number of times it overwrites a deleted file. Set it to 1. – Traveling Tech Guy Jul 29 '11 at 20:48

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