Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I know that on the windows operating system, when you delete a file it's still recoverable. I'd like to avoid simply paving the harddrive with zeros as I would like to keep my OS installation as is, but is there a way to truly delete files that have been previously deleted?

share|improve this question

9 Answers 9

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Eraser

You want to choose the wipe free space option.

share|improve this answer
    
Didn't know Eraser had that option - good choice! –  Dan Walker Sep 1 '09 at 20:41
    
excellent choice. +1 –  Molly7244 Sep 1 '09 at 22:22
    
Thank you, Eraser looks wonderful. I just wiped a whole load of files from my computer and was about to post a question, when whola! there you go, there's an answer just right there! –  ymasood Sep 1 '09 at 22:28

No need for additional software.

Drop into a command prompt and use the built-in CIPHER command.

cipher /w:C:\

  1. Quit all programs.
  2. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then press ENTER.
  3. Type cipher /w:driveletter:\foldername, and then press ENTER. Specify the drive and the folder that identifies the volume that contains the deleted data that you want to overwrite. Data that is not allocated to files or folders will be overwritten. This permanently removes the data. This can take a long time if you are overwriting a large space.
share|improve this answer

Actually CCleaner should do it with Gutmann secure file deletion and "wipe free space drives" enabled!

alt text

share|improve this answer
1  
That's going to take sometime. Isn't DOD-level deletion (3 passes) enough for secure deletion? –  Isxek Sep 1 '09 at 21:52
1  
That depends on your needs. The CIA might still be able to recover data after 3 passes. A while ago I read that it was possible to restore data after 7 deletes. –  Christian Sep 1 '09 at 22:00
1  
Ture paran...err...security knows patience ;). –  Don Salva Sep 1 '09 at 22:03
3  
A single zero fill is enough. news.softpedia.com/news/… –  Robert Harvey Sep 18 '09 at 3:34
1  
After single pass zeros you'll still need special equipment to read previous contents of disk. You can't do this with any software and actually you cant even use original heads for reading after single pass zero filled disk. –  Sampo Sarrala Mar 27 at 18:29

Keep using your PC. After, say, a week, there'll be nothing left to recover. The only times when recovering is really, really effective is when people get their hands on drives that were just quick-reformatted and then sold, nothing else done to them.

share|improve this answer

Have you tried File Shredder?

share|improve this answer
    
That installer has more adware than anything I've ever seen. Unless you do the advanced install, uncheck everything, and decline most of the apparent "license agreements" you'll end up installing half a dozen browser toolbars and similar junk. –  TrueWill Feb 7 at 16:00

The excellent PortableApps has two cleaner programs:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

There is a program called Prevent Restore, but I have never used it and never heard of the author, so I can't vouch for its quality.

CCleaner has the option to securely clear the Recycle Bin and Temp files, but not those that you have already deleted.

share|improve this answer

You can always checkout www.fileshredder.org They have an option to shred non localized disk space.

share|improve this answer
    
Please see my comment under Tiago's answer. The installer is full of deceptive adware. –  TrueWill Feb 7 at 16:01

If it's an SSD then you can be much more thorough- using the "secure erase" command.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.