Securely wipe private files

Learn how to securely wipe files

Deleting a file will remove the file title from your hard drive (so you won’t see the file title when you “explore” your hard drive), but the file data remains on your disk and in some cases can be recovered by savvy computer technicians

Your operating system will be making temporary copies all over the hard disk of most pictures and videos you view, even after you have deleted a file, it will still be easily recoverable with specialist computer forensics software.

File information is maintained in a directory all that “delete” does is erase the file’s reference information. Your OS can’t find it, but the data is still there.

Free software to securely wipe files

Free programs to overwrite data

Hard Disk Scrubber: It has two functions, hard disk free space scrubbing and file shredding.

Eraser: Secure data removal tool for Windows, free and open source. It overwrites data several times with carefully selected patterns.

Freeraser:This free data wiping utility offers fast destruction (1 overwritting pass), forced destruction (3 overwritting passes), and ultimate destruction (35 rounds of random data).

File wiping vulnerability

Learn to securely wipe files

Explaining hard drive slack space

A hard drive is divided in sections and sectors, when you store a file on one of those sectors and the data does not fill all of it Windows will keep half of the space empty, on that space resides old data that can be recovered with computer forensics tools.

Wiping files will not be enough to keep your privacy, you will also need to make sure that the utilites you have used to view/work with that data do not leave any back up copy behind on the temporary files.

You should be using a software utility that can wipe all the traces in your internet browser, IM, P2P software, Office, Windows Media Player and anything that you regularly use.

File wiping only makes recovery harder but someone determined will possibly manage to find a copy of the wiped file somewhere in the operating system, or at the very least the file name which can give away what kind of data you were working with.

File wiping is no panacea

It is important the file wiping utility to provide an option to erase free space and temporary files. Most times, Windows applications will store temporary copies of files that have been viewed.

- Wiping files securely

Basic needs for a file wiping utility

Wipe your hard drive slack space once a week!