Last week we looked at NTFS Undelete, which is a great free program to undelete deleted files. As I tested it, I was able to recover many deleted files, some of which had been deleted for years. It raised a security concern for me that these files were so easily recovered, so I had a look for some programs that would help to make deleted files stay deleted.
Normally it does not matter if files are recoverable. It is handy in many cases. If a file is accidentally deleted, it is nice to know that all is not lost. Some sensitive files, you may want out of your life forever.
I came across a small but powerful utility called Eraser that would fulfill my needs. After running it, my deleted files were no longer recoverable. It can be used in two main ways.
First off is the Recycle Bin add-in. When you right click on the Recycle Bin, you normally get the option to empty it. Eraser adds a number of extra options for you. You can securely delete the files in the recycle bin using any of the extra options. Most of them will run several passes over the file. Others will replace the file with random data, which in both cases will ensure the file is gone forever. This does take longer than a normal bin empty, but it is not an uncomfortable wait.
Secondly, Internet history, cookies and uninstalled programs all bypass the recycle bin. That is why Eraser offers another component to look after you. Eraser can be setup to do a number of tasks on a schedule. You can delete files, folders… or my favourite, erase all free space. This ensures that any deleted files will remain deleted.
Lastly, many people sell their computers without correctly wiping the disk beforehand. This makes all of their data available to the purchaser, whether the files have been deleted or not. Using Boot and Nuke which incorporates Eraser, you are able to make a floppy disk or CD that will erase a computer completely before it is sold.
Eraser runs on most versions of Windows. Get your copy of Eraser for free from their website.