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Home / Tips & Tricks / Deleting A File Doesn’t Mean It’s Deleted Forever!

Deleting A File Doesn’t Mean It’s Deleted Forever!

Deleting A File Doesn’t Mean It’s Deleted Forever!


Deleting a file doesn’t mean it’s deleted forever, so how do you securely erase data from a computer?

It is a common misconception of PC users that once they have dropped a file into the recycle bin and emptied it that that is it, the file is gone for good.  You would think that this is how it should be, well


All that happens when you erase a file by either deleting it or putting it into the trash, is that the Windows OS has been told not to recognize the file. So you do not see it when you open a folder or your desktop, including when you search for it. In fact, it is not erased at all, the data is still there on your hard drive. It will only be erase when the that area or sector on the hard disk has information over written to it by some other file or data. Knowing where to look will also lead a snooper to those places in the Windows operating system. A casual user would not normally know about or think to look such as temporary documents or temporary internet files and the cache.


The issue is how do we get rid of and permanently delete the files and information that allows you to have a degree of confidence and security that the data has been erased forever?

This becomes particularly acute when you are looking at recycling or trashing an old computer. As many people were doing with the free Windows upgrading that was happening over a year or so ago. Handing over a PC to the local school, charity or selling it on becomes fraught if you have data lurking there that can easily be recovered by a free file recovery program. These can be downloaded from the internet and there are hundreds freely available on the internet. Imagine your credit card information, banking passwords or personal information such as family photographs being recovered in a matter of seconds from your machine? Secure data wipe is what we are looking for. So, we need softwares to allow us to securely delete our file, which makes recovering a file impossible.

Your first stop is the internet and simply putting file recovery freeware as a search string in your search engine will throw up a lot of utilities that you can feely use. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free is a good example but there are many more, and here is an overview of the features you can expect. EaseUS Data Recovery will recover deleted files of a wide variety and not just Windows files such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel. You can recover html, xhtml, gif, avi, mp3 files and many more.

For more information on PC and laptop maintenance go to our guide ‘PC Maintenance’ 

Moving onto the commercially available software, Seagate Premium File Recovery Suite have a good range of file recovery software as well as an extremely good file erase packag that has been certified to meet the US Department of Defence sanitation standard for data erasure. Typically, the commercial software tends to retail at around the $99 Mark.

But if you are serious about your PC security this is a small price to pay. Seagate does offer a free 14-day trail which I would say take so that you can make sure the software suits your needs. Commercial software does tend to offer more features than freeware and to be frank, the support you get with commercial software does tend to make the price worthwhile as in many cases you will be looking to use a file delete utility prior to ridding yourself of the PC. Once the machine has gone you are not going to get the chance to go back and repeat a file erase utility in this instance, so you need to get it right the first time.


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