Did you know that files you've emptied out of your Trash or Recycle Bin can often be recovered with a file recovery program? It may look like you've removed them from the hard drive, but the 1s and 0s of the deleted files are still on your disk. The only sure way to permanently erase sensitive material is to overwrite the disk space with new data.
WindowsGo to the Eraser website and download the free Eraser program. Eraser uses a process rigorous enough to meet the US Department of Defense's standards.
MacChoose "Secure Empty Trash" from the Finder menu and the files in the Trash will be deleted securely.
*nixUse the "shred" command. Refer to its respective man page for more details.
For Windows PCs, there are many free programs designed to securely erase files.
- SDelete - An unsupported Microsoft utility for securely deleting files. SDelete is targeted at more advanced users, since it has no graphical interface and must be operated through the Windows Command Prompt.
- A free, open-source secure delete utility provided by Object Media Limited. Secure Delete is good enough for the average user, but does not meet the US Department of Defense's guidelines for secure deletion of data. To ensure that your files have been securely deleted, you should consider a more robust file deletion utility. However, the average PC user cannot recover files after this software has overwritten them, so unless a data recovery expert looks at your computer, then you're fine.