How To Permanently Remove Secure Files On Your Windows Computer
It’s not as easy as just right clicking on the Windows File or Folder that you want to remove, by clicking “Delete,” and then you’re done. It’s not exactly that quick and efficient. All that you’re doing, if you compare it to a real life office situation, is just moving all of those sensitive files into a cardboard file folder which is labelled “Recycle Bin,” and then storing it away.
So to be completely safe and secure, and if the ever advancing cyber-criminals ever happen to gain access to your network or computer system, your computers “Recycle Bin” is the very first place that they will look when searching for your data.
There are several ways, however, on how you can safely and permanently delete these files in Windows so there won’t be any remnants left over.
Basic Removal Of Files
When you send a document or a file which you no longer need directly to the Recycle Bin, all that you’re doing is just moving that data from its original location to another location on your computer.
Then, what you or anyone else can do is go into the Recycle Bin and then just right-click on the file, which will Restore it back to its original folder. You can also just drag and drop that document or file to a new location.
As a result, the Recycle Bin isn’t really a very effective method of deleting files you don’t need, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s completely useless either.
Other than helping you to organize better by providing an uncluttered computer, once these files are in the Recycle Bin, you can just double-click on these unwanted files to view them. You can also right-click on the files individually and then click “Delete” to get rid of them.
You’re also able to permanently delete all of these files in the Recycle Bin by clicking on the “Empty The Recycle Bin” which is located near the top of the window, or by just right-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon itself and then clicking on the Empty The Recycle Bin tab.
This deletion is permanent as well as sufficient enough for the majority of situations. While these deleted files still can be potentially recovered, you’ll need third-party extraction software to do so.
This because once you delete a file in Windows, all it does is it removes the file record marker, while still leaving the footprint fully intact on your hard drive. If Windows ever needs to write new data on the disk, however, and those sectors where the deleted files happen to be overwritten, then the data will no longer be recoverable.
Using A Shortcut For Permanent Deletion
If you’re wanting to permanently delete a file or folder which is anywhere on your PC without needing to first sending it to the Recycle Bin, you can just click on the file which will highlight it, then press the Shift key on your keyboard and then the DELETE key simultaneously at the same time.
Once you see the “Permanently Delete This File” box, click Yes if you want to continue. You’re also able to get rid of the confirmation dialog box by just right-clicking on the Recycle Bin, then click Properties, the General tab, then clear the “Display Delete Confirmation Dialog” box.
Getting Better Security
If you happen to be deleting files which are of a particularly sensitive nature, then the Window’s definition of what it deems “permanent” may not be satisfactory to you.
What you can do is use the Windows Disk Defragmenter or a 3rd party Defragmenter utility to rearrange all of the sectors on your hard drive which originally stored that sensitive data.
To launch it, what you need to do is click “Start” on the lower left corner, select “All Programs,” then “Accessories,” then “System Tools,” and then “Disk Defragmenter,” opening up a window on what drive you want to defragment. The various 3rd party “defrag” utilities will also do the same.
A better method if you’re looking for absolute permanent deletion, even though it may be less practical, is to just completely reformating the hard drive. What you’ll need to keep in mind, however, is that doing so will completely wipe out everything previously resident on that drive.
To reformat the drive, what you need to do is Launch Windows Explorer, then right-click on the hard drive which you want to reformat. Proceed to click “Format” for the complete hard drive erase. You’ll also need to make sure that you perform a full format and not just a quick format.
Third-Party File Removal Solutions
There are those rare instances when you need to make sure that a deleted file remains completely irrecoverable to anyone, ever. What you may then need is a third-party utility program to do so.
Two proven products on the market are “Eraser” and “Scar5’s Simple File Shredder,” which are both free programs which you can download. What both of these utilities will do is completely erase entire hard drives or individual folders and files.
These utility programs are able to accomplish the permanent removal process by completely overwriting the file or folder by using random characters to ensure they’re gone and remain gone forever.
If you’re still not satisfied with that, then there are third-party virtual file shredders which are used and approved by the U.S. Department of Defense. One example of this type of utility is WhiteCanyon’s SecureClean, which is an industrial grade file shredder, found at www.whitecanyon.com.