When you delete a file from your hard drive you would assume that it has gone forever. You’ve emptied the recycle bin and that should be the end of it, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. What actually happens is that the file is hidden and the part of the drive that the file was stored on is now marked as empty. This means that the space is now available and free for other files to overwrite it. However, depending on how heavy your computer use is, it could take a very long time before that space is actually overwritten, meaning that the file you thought you deleted is still lingering around. This is why you can get data recovery programs. They are able to look deeper in to the drive and try and pull out these once deleted files. Very handy for recovering those files that got removed by mistake! But if you think about it, there are security risks attached to this. Confidential data that you’ve removed from the drive could potentially still be accessed by someone. This is something to be very aware of, especially in a business environment where data is probably more valuable.
This is where secure deletion comes in. By using special software, you can ensure that data you delete truly has gone forever with no way back. One such program is R-Wipe & Clean, which is available to download for free. What R-Wipe & Clean does is overwrite the files that are being deleted with random data. You can choose how many times you wish it to be overwritten, all the way up to 35 times (which is known as the Gutmann method). On top of allowing you to delete files and folders securely immediately, the program also lets you schedule a specific time for the procedure to be carried out. One unique feature of R-Wipe & Clean is that it allows you to detect and eliminate hidden data stored by applications.
Other programs also exist, such as CCleaner (which also helps clean up the system in general) and Eraser. You can also physically destroy the drive, but obviously this will render it unusable and you will have to buy a replacement. However, for some formats this may be necessary, like read-only media such as CDs and DVDs.
Data recovery works best if you perform it as soon as possible. This is because the sooner you do it the less likely the data is to have been overwritten. By using programs like R-Wipe & Clean or CCleaner, it means that you will be unable to perform data recovery on the files that you have securely deleted. Your data will have been overwritten so much that it will no longer exist on the drive at all. However, it’s worth noting that just because you have deleted one copy of the file doesn’t mean that is gone forever. Some programs, like Microsoft Office, can keep backup copies of your files. The only way to ensure total, 100% deletion of a file is to overwrite the entire drive repeatedly.
Secure Delete: How It Prevents Data Recovery
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