How do I erase deleted files?

Placing a file in the trash and then deleting it can be a good way to get rid of a file, the truth is that the file is still there. The idea that the file is completely gone is a common misconception, but savvy computer users are becoming aware that deleting a file doesn’t actually do any of that. It simply hides the file from the computer. For those who find this disconcerting, there are several ways to more completely erase deleted files.

Physically destroying a hard drive is one way to ensure your files are not recoverable.

One of the easiest ways to erase deleted files is to format the hard drive. Typically, this will completely clean the system, and even programs that are normally used to recover deleted files will not be able to locate them. This is one of the more drastic ways to get rid of files, but it usually works.

There are several ways to more completely erase “deleted” files.

Another way to erase files that have been deleted is to use a data eraser program. There are two types of data erasers. Some are used for individual files. Others are used for the entire hard drive. The option chosen is usually up to the user, but not all software products will do both. Users should understand what is the difference in software products before purchasing. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the consumer will be disappointed with the product.

Software that does a complete data wipe is very similar to hard drive formatting. This will completely erase the deleted files, along with all other files on the computer. Those using this option should be aware of this and make sure that all important files are backed up. This is the only way to fully recover everything that is wanted after the software has finished its work.

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Other types of software used to erase deleted files can only be used for individual files. This is probably the situation most computer users prefer. This will keep all other files on the machine and save the user from the time consuming process of reinstalling all the desired software products on the computer. This type of software is sometimes called a data shredder and it basically writes to the file multiple times with random data. The more times a file is overwritten, the more difficult it is to recover the original information.

For those who are especially concerned about sensitive information, it should be noted that there is really no way to guarantee any method used to erase deleted files. There can always be a chance that some data will remain on the hard drive in recoverable form, especially since technology is always changing on both sides of the equation. In addition to physically destroying the hard drive and installing new hardware, something can still be recovered if enough effort and time is put into the task. However, in most cases, data destruction programs will do an adequate job of getting rid of junk files unless the individual looking for them is extremely well trained.

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