Many people… even those who aren’t James Bond … have a good reason for wanting to permanently delete some files! If you’re giving away an old computer, need to get rid of confidential documents or records for a business, or simply don’t want stuff hanging around after you’ve hit the Delete key, here’s how file shredding software can permanently delete your files.
Software to permanently delete files
Hitting the delete key and emptying the Recycle Bin will leave the information you’ve deleted intact (simply removing the reference to it), until that space is overwritten. Sometimes programs can even restore information that has been overwritten only once or twice, using recovery technology to read magnetic patterns. You can’t simply delete the file and then start saving new files in a DIY-style overwrite attempt, as there is no guarantee that Windows will first save the data in the space freed by your deletion. You’ll need software that is designed to permanently delete files by one of the two methods below.
Shredding individual files
Some file shredding programs are designed to work with individual files – these are the ones that you’ll use day to day. All you need to do is:
- Open the file shredder program
- Let it know which files you want to get rid of
- Set your security level. The better programs, like the utility built into Auslogics BoostSpeed, will give you a choice of several security levels, from a fast and secure delete, to a slower, but military-level ultimate delete.
Disk wiper programs
These programs for permanently deleting files work in a slightly different way to the individual file shredder programs. They can:
- Wipe the free space on an entire drive
- Wipe slack space (area between the end of a file and the end of the last cluster used by that file)
- Clear file entries from the file system table
Look for utilities like the Disk Wiper included with Auslogics BoostSpeed that can turn off System Restore while your are permanently deleting files. System Restore tracks the changes that have been made, so turning it off while wiping ensures that no copies of the shredded files can be made.
Free Microsoft utilities
Microsoft provides a free utility for file shredding, SDelete. It works on all versions of Windows, but is a separate download – you won’t find it inbuilt into your system. SDelete deletes files to military standards, but doesn’t allow you to balance your deleting needs between speed and security (as the file shredder built into Auslogics BoostSpeed does), and does not remove file names from the file system table, as Auslogics Disk Wiper does – though it will overwrite the name entries several times.