Keeping private and sensitive data safe should be the top priority, especially when you are using or selling your digital electronic devices like PC, smartphone, storage media, etc. Usually people use ‘Shift+Delete’ to get rid of files and folders permanently. However, using ‘Shift+Delete’ or emptying recycle bin doesn’t actually remove data from the drive. Similarly, quick formatting replaces the File System and storage table without deleting the real data; thus, data can be recovered. Even deleting a volume or partition doesn’t help. The inaccessible data from a deleted partition can be recovered with the help of a professional data recovery tool.
Deleting files, internet history, and clearing caches through file explorer or any tool like CCleaner actually doesn’t remove the information stored on the system hard drive or an external storage media. It just removes path to access those files. Therefore, the files still remain on the hard drive, unless overwritten, and can be easily accessed with the help of a data recovery tool.
The recovered files may contain sensitive data like your online transaction, bank details, login passwords, auto fill forms data, browsing history, chat messages, cookies, and much more. Similarly uninstalling apps from the system doesn’t remove the application traces – files and folders saved at different location by various applications in Windows system containing data related to app usage. Also, the empty space of your system’s hard drive may still contain previously deleted data and sensitive files that can also be recovered with the help of a data recovery tool.
Therefore, in order to permanently remove the data from hard drive or any other storage media, you must overwrite it or in simple words – don’t just delete, erase it. Erasing data means destroying the data by overwriting the data with a pattern of 0’s and 1’s. This makes recovery impossible and keeps your data safe.
How to Erase Private Data Permanently – Beyond Recovery
Below we have explained three different ways to erase private data permanently from Windows laptop or PC. The first two methods are a little bit tricky for a person who is not well versed with computers. However, with the help of step-by-step instructions that we provided, it’s simple and easy.
1. Overwriting using SDelete
SDelete is a CMD (command line) based secure delete utility that allows you to delete files, directories, and erase the free space on the disk by overwriting the files with secure delete pattern.
Follow these steps to securely delete your sensitive and private data using SDelete:
SDelete removes data permanently from the hard drive and makes file recovery impossible. However, there are few drawbacks that can’t be ignored.
2. Overwrite Private Data with WinHex
WinHex is a powerful multi-functional tool helpful in computer forensics, low-level data processing, data recovery, and IT Security.
But the tool has some huge drawbacks:
3. Using a Data Erasure Program – BitRaser for File
Using a Data Erasure tool such as BitRaser for File – a GUI based user-friendly data erasure tool – gives you a great piece of mind as it safeguards your privacy by permanently erasing files, folders, internet history, etc. from the Windows system beyond the scope of recovery. Unlike above-mentioned utilities, the BitRaser for File software is completely safe and secure to use as it does not affect any system or program files present in the C: drive.
The BitRaser for File uses 17 international standards and algorithms such as NATO, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD Standard 5220.22-M) 3 pass/7 pass, etc. to accomplish such a high degree of data privacy. The erased data can’t be accessed or recovered even with the help of forensic tools.
Moreover, the tool helps you to wipe the empty spaces (unused storage), that may contain previously deleted file on your system drive using any or all (one at a time) of the 17 algorithms.
To erase the private data permanently in Windows using BitRaser for File, follow these steps.
You have now successfully and completely erased your private data from your system that can’t be recovered now with any means. You also have an option to Add Erasure List that facilitates users to add a list of files and folders that are automatically created by applications containing sensitive data. The created list can be accessed later and with just one click those files and folders can be erased. This saves you from browsing and erasing same files and folders again and again.
With Search File option, you can find and delete specific files. Schedule option lets you schedule automatic file or directory deletion based on time and system boot.
Only drawback of BitRaser for File is that the free version allows you to delete files less than or equal to 64 KB. To delete files bigger than 64 KB, you’ll have to purchase the license key which is totally value for money, considering the level of privacy and data security the tool provides.
If you need to delete few files, you may use SDelete or WinHex, however, the tools are complex to use and are capable of deleting system files without any prior warning. So use these tools carefully. On the other hand, BitRaser for File is a user-friendly and completely safe data-erasure tool as it doesn’t lists important file directories in the software screen like Windows files, program files, etc. and saves you from accidentally deleting important system files. With 17 international standards, you can be certain that your private data is completely sanitized beyond recovery.