Saturday, September 24, 2005

Erase that Hard Drive

A friend was talking about donating his old desktop to a charity but was concerned about deleting files which certain sensitive information, and the discussion was how to delete these files forever short of removing the hard drive and driving over it a few times. I didn't really have an answer, but this information has just come my way.

The Windows Recycle Bin is not the end for your deleted files. In fact, deleted files linger even after you've emptied the Recycle Bin. That information could be recovered and read by someone else with just a little savy.

When you delete a file, it's space on the hard drive is essentially marked "this space available." The file remains on your hard drive. But Windows considers it forgotten and will reuse the space whenever necessary. Only then will the deleted information be destroyed.

But there's no telling when Windows will use that space for something else. It could be seconds, minutes, days, weeks, or months. So the deleted information could hang around quite awhile. Fortunately, there are tools to help ensure that deleted files are truly gone. They're commonly called shredders.

These overwrite deleted files with random, meaningless data. In addition, they can be used for everyday deletion of files. When shredders are used to delete files, the files are gone for good.

There are a lot of shredders available on the Web. You might even find one that's free. Of course, I've already found one for you. It's simply named Eraser, and you can get it at:
Good luck

hat tip Kim Komando

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