Your Questions Answered: “How Do I Know My Files Are Actually Deleted in Windows?”Posted: September 1, 2011
Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, people of all ages; welcome to another exciting episode of “The Tech Corner Topic Bag”, where I randomly pull one of your questions out of the Tech Corner Topics Inbox. Today’s question is, ” How Do I Know My Files are Actually Deleted in Windows?” This is an excellent question, because even the most basic user realizes that when a file is deleted in Windows it goes to the recycle bin, and if it goes there when deleted it stands to reason that when the bin is emptied it may not entirely be gone then either. This assumption is 110% true, Windows doesn’t purge itself of anything entirely by itself.
It basically boils down to this, when you delete a file from windows the file itself it not necessarily removed, but the reference of said file. The file continues to exist on your hard drive until another file overwrites it. The time it takes to overwrite this vulnerable file varies and is random, as it will have to wait until a file is saved to that sector of the drive. So, until that time, the file is still there and can be lifted off the drive. So, if you are wanting a file to be completely removed from your drive; and it appears you do based on your question, then Windows is NOT the way to accomplish it.
However, never fear fair citizen, there are many many tools out there that will allow you to go about your shadow operation. Today I will go over some of the better ones and hopefully point you in the right direction to solve your inquiry. So, get yourself a pen and paper or pull up Evernote, because ready or not here we go.
1. DP Shredder
This program is very lightweight and portable that can be installed and carried on a jumdrive. IT will securely delete files and even directories along with overwriting free space on your hard drive so other files deleted by windows cannot be recovered.
You can download DP Shredder for free over at Portable Freeware.
Now this one is my personal favorite. CCLeaner (translates to “Crap Cleaner”) deletes everything from files, temp internet files while also cleaning up your cookies and history. As an added bonus it also does a real nice job of cleaning up your registry. You can also, not only, wipe the free space on a drive, but can wipe your entire drive. This could be very handy if you are wanting to donate your PC to charity.
Download the Free Installable Version and/or portable version over at Piriform
This program takes a bit of a different approach to securing a deletion. Instead of wiping the drive’s free space it overwrites the files being deleted with random data. Not my preferred method of accomplishing the task, but it gets the job done.
You can download it free from Portable Apps.
Here you go the Top Three most reliable File “Deleters”. One of these will allow you to digitally shred documents so fast it would make Nixon’s head spin.
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