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Secure file deletion


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#1 Essexlad

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:22 PM

I am using Windows XP

 

In short, I would like to know what the best programme is to use, to securely delete personal files/data etc? I basically want to fully protect my privacy and delete files in such a way that they would never be able to be recovered by any software or hardware programme by any agency? I gather this is possible!?

 

I do already have CCleaner, although I am not sure I use this to its full advantage.

 

Advice please?

 

Many thanks in advance.



#2 Budfred

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:13 PM

In practical terms, most file deletion programs would do a sufficient job...  It is theoretically possible to retrieve files from a hard drive even after it has been erased overwritten and erased again in continuous loops...  However, after about 3 of those routines, it would take a very large amount of money to recover any data and it is not likely to be very usable at that point...  Unless you have extremely sensitive information, it is likely that a standard deletion utility will suffice...  If it is extremely sensitive, it is probably a good idea to securely wipe the entire disk with repeated erase/overwrite cycles and then start over... 


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#3 Essexlad

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:11 PM

Thank you for your reply. Is CCleaner the best software package to use to perform that task or is there a better one out there? If CCleaner is the one I should use, can you tell me how to use it for secure deletion? I dont think I use it to its full advantage at present. Also, does this also securely delete browsing history?

 

Many thanks.



#4 Budfred

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:21 PM

I haven't used CCleaner in years, partly because it has a dangerous Registry cleaning program and partly because (if I remember) it bundled some garbage for a while...  I don't know what the current best options are, so you will need to wait for someone who is more familiar with them...  Be careful about grabbing one until the post has been reviewed by staff since this kind of request can be attractive to SPAMmers who want to promote commercial or malware programs... 

 

Personally, I use program that is part of an old version of System Suite because it works well and I am not worried about what kind of garbage may come with it...  It is a commercial program that I bought for a range of utilities, so it is not available for free download...

 

EDIT: Browsing history can usually be deleted pretty securely through a number of different means, depending on what program you use...  I believe Firefox has an add-on that assures a secure delete, but it also does a pretty good job with defaults... 


Edited by Budfred, 19 February 2013 - 10:23 PM.

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#5 Essexlad

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:19 AM

Thank you for the above reply, I shall await a further reply from another member of staff, as per your comments.

 

Many thanks.



#6 Essexlad

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:56 PM

Does anyone have any further advice for me on this subject, other than what has already been suggested?

 

Many thanks.



#7 TheJoker

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:33 AM

There are a number of articles you can find using Google searching for secure file deletion utilities. Two of the utilities that show up most often in reviews are CCleaner and Eraser.

http://www.pcworld.c...o-the-test.html
http://www.pcworld.c...hard_drive.html
http://www.techsuppo...ase-utility.htm
http://lifehacker.co...-physical-media
http://www.howtogeek...les-in-windows/

Things to avoid are utilities with Registry cleaners (or simply be aware that you shoudn't use that function) because the risk of damage to you system is not worth the small (if any) improvement to your system. Another thing to avoid is any program that detects massive amount or errors and wants you to pay for a "full" version that will correct the errors.

The other thing to consider is why you are looking for a secure erase utility.
 

I basically want to fully protect my privacy and delete files in such a way that they would never be able to be recovered by any software or hardware programme by any agency?


For the most part, unless there is some reason that some law enforcement agency would want to attempt to recover your files, if not involved in any activity that you shouldn't be involved in, for most people there really isn't a need to worry about that.

If you were involved in support of organizations that oppose the current government, such as the Dali Lama, yes, you might be concerned about the ability of the Chinese government to access your system or data. For most people, that's not true.

How securely do you need to delete data?
https://en.wikipedia.../Gutmann_method
 

The delete function in most operating systems simply marks the space occupied by the file as reusable (removes the pointer to the file) without immediately removing any of its contents. At this point the file can be fairly easily recovered by numerous recovery applications. However, once the space is overwritten with other data, there is no known way to use software to recover it. It cannot be done with software alone since the storage device only returns its current contents via its normal interface.


Here's another article on the inability to recover overwritten data:
http://www.nber.org/...ta-gutmann.html
 


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#8 Essexlad

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:07 PM

Many thanks for your advice. I will study the above links!






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