How to delete files for good
By Jeandre de Beer / Kim Komando
You don’t leave credit card and bill statements lying around where anyone can get to them. So why would you leave your digital data out for anyone to find?
It may be time to get rid of that old computer, or maybe it’s just time to free up some hard drive space. Whatever the reason, that data has got to go.
So now you’ve deleted your sensitive and classified financial information. No hackers could possibly steal your personal data, right?
Wrong! You might think your files are deleted, but really they’re only hidden.
New data will eventually replace it, but until then hackers could still read it. And even after that, magnetic field patterns could still be read from the disk surface.
If you want to get serious about your personal security, you need to erase sensitive data for good.
If you want to permanently delete data – you need to do more than just deleting the file and emptying your recycle bin.
Most people don’t think too much about what happens when they delete a file. They right-click it, select Delete and then empty the Recycle Bin. They think the file is gone forever.
What they don’t realize is that the file isn’t really gone. All those deleted letters, financial documents and compromising photos are still lurking on the computer. All it takes is a little know-how to recover them.
What’s going on?
When a file is deleted, your operating system removes the link to the file and marks the space free. Until it’s overwritten by new information, that file will still exist on your hard drive.
If you consider the size of hard drives, it could be some time until that file is really gone for good.
And just think about that old computer you’re going to sell on. You could be turning over your entire digital life to a stranger. Who wants that?
This is where Eraser comes in. It’s what I recommend to secure your information. Eraser writes over deleted files with meaningless data. This makes the files unrecoverable.
It has a simple, clean interface, and can permanently erase data from any drive that works with Windows. You can even schedule deletions to happen automatically.
While the program itself is simple, there are a lot of options. I highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the basics of this program before you start deleting files.
Be careful when using Eraser
Any data that is deleted cannot be recovered. I highly recommend you have a strong backup system in place before you start deleting files.