Many PC users think that once the Recycle Bin is emptied, unwanted files are on their way to hell without a return ticket. Unfortunately, this is a misconception that has had serious social and professional repercussions for many. Newspapers and other news sources are full of stories about how law enforcement units dig out ‘deleted’ files out of computers and use it as legitimate evidence against ‘bad guys’ in court. It should be stressed though that good guys might also end up on the receiving end of a similar but unlawful encroachment. If law enforcement can accomplish this kind of operation, there is no reason why a technologically savvy individual could not do something similar with widely available potent data recovery software.
This article is meant to be a memo on different ways of deleting files from your computer permanently and slips briefly into a discussion on the effectiveness of each method.
Methods Of Deleting Files
Windows allow users to delete a file anytime by right clicking on it and then selecting delete command or by directly pressing delete button after selecting a file. Default destination for the deleted file is the Recycle Bin folder. Emptying the Recycle Bin does not delete a file permanently from a computer. ‘Deleted’ files stay with your computer until they are rewritten by other data.
Another deletion method saves users some time by skipping the Recycle Bin stage. Selecting a file and then pressing Shift and Delete commands on your keyboard at the same time would make the file disappear. Unfortunately, this method also constitutes a faux deletion as the file is still kept on the hard drive. Below, I recommend two programs that would enable users to delete files permanently from their computers.
First program I shall introduce is called File Wiper. It is a program that has to be downloaded and installed onto your computer. It is free, portable and readily available online. Once File Wiper is running, a trash can figure shows up above the system tray. After selecting one of the four equally potent methods presented in File Wiper’s main menu (namely Quick Erase, Standard Erase, Secure Erase, Maniacal Erase), User can delete files permanently by dragging and dropping them onto the trash can figure.
If you are using a public computer that might not allow you to install and run a program like File Wiper, there is a good alternative. RightDelete is a tiny portable (easily transportable in a USB drive) application that can delete files permanently without being installed onto your computer. Upon startup, RightDelete asks users to choose where to place RightDelete’s delete function. Options listed are ‘Explorer context menu item within file/folder links’, ‘Explorer context menu item as a Send to link’ and ‘Desktop shortcut link’. I would recommend the second option as it enables you to right click and delete any file permanently right away.