Tuesday, September 13, 2011

3 Great Ways to Permanently Delete Files

A lot of users tend to think that deleting a file makes it irrecoverable. While this is true to some extent, recovering deleted files using data recovery software is completely possible with a tool like Recuva. When you hit the ‘Delete’ option on your PC, the operating system only removes the file from its index while the actual components that make up the file are totally intact. The file is removed only after many write attempts over the same block in your Hard-disk and this could happen in smaller hard-disks naturally over a period of time (usually, many years). But, if you just deleted sensitive data and want to make sure that no one gets access to it you will need to use a tool that will overwrite the blocks on your hard disk many times, thereby rendering your data irrecoverable. This may sound sophisticated, but it’s pretty easy to accomplish. In this post, I’ll be listing 3 simple tools that will help you deleted your data, literally!


Yup! Our beloved CCleaner does this job. Here’s how you can get started.

CCleaner Delete

  • Launch CCleaner and choose ‘Tools’ and then ‘Drive Wiper’. You’ll then see an interface similar to the one in the screenshot above.


  • You’ll now to have to choose whether you need to overwrite certain parts of a drive to make data irrecoverable or to wipe the entire partition. Remember that wiping the entire partition will erase all the data and if you’d like to protect only the files that you’ve deleted, choose ‘Free Space Only’.


  • Now, we need to determine the the number of Overwrites that will happen. A Simple Overwrite is enough in most cases, but you can choose a more Complex option which will ensure that the files are irrecoverable even with the most advanced techniques known that are in use.
  • Finally, choose the drive/partition that you are looking to wipe and hit ‘Wipe’. This will take some time depending on the kind of method that you’ve chosen and the size of your hard-disk.

In my opinion, this is the better than using other similar tools mainly because you don’t have to install a separate software for deleting files since CCleaner is practically something that you need to survive on Windows. Make sure that you have at least CCleaner v3 since anything older than that does not contain this feature.


Securely Delete

This is more like a prevention is better than cure solution. Instead of using the Delete option in Windows, DeleteOnClick integrates with the right-click-menu and adds an option called ‘Securely Delete’. Doing this makes the particular file irrecoverable and this definitely sounds better than spending hours in front of CCleaner.

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)


This tool is different from the ones featured above. It runs outside your operating system and boots from an optical disk to wipe your entire hard-disk. Of course, it’s going to take sometime but if you are planning to sell your PC or give it away this is something you SHOULD do.

DBAN is very powerful compared to any other similar tool and although it isn’t all that easy-to-use like CCleaner or DeleteOnClick it does a really good job and it’s virtually impossible to recover data even with the most sophisticated data recovery tools that are available today. Get it here.

So, those were some tools that I’ve tried and found simple as well as effective. If you didn’t know about permanently deleting files already, this should be a great head start. If you did, let us know which tool you used via the comments section below.