Deleting a file is entirely different than erasing it. When a file is deleted in Windows, only the pointer (address) to the file’s physical location on the disk is removed from the File Allocation Table (FAT) or Master file Table (MFT). Thus, the deleted file remains on the drive unless overwritten.
The OS marks the space or sectors occupied by the deleted file as Unallocated. So, the next time when you copy data or download files, the OS ‘may’ store the new files on unallocated space by overwriting the previously deleted file(s). This overwriting destroys the deleted files beyond the scope of recovery.
However, the chances of OS allocating unallocated the storage space to new files are bleak—especially when the drive has enough storage space. Plus, these files may still get recovered by using powerful data recovery software and forensics tools.
Thus, it’s important that you securely erase your deleted confidential files in Windows 7 to safeguard data privacy and prevent data breach, which may happen when you sell, donate, share, or dispose of your storage media or devices without secure eraser.
How to erase Deleted Files in Windows
When file gets deleted, you lose access to the file. And if you can’t access a file, you can’t erase it.
But with the help of a powerful file eraser software such as BitRaser File Eraser, you can erase both existing and deleted files from a Windows 7 PC or supported internal and external storage media.
To erase deleted files in Windows 7 by using BitRaser File Eraser, follow these steps:
Install and launch BitRaser File Eraser software
Go to ‘Tools’, select data erasure algorithm and verification method from respective drop-downs
NOTE: BitRaser File Erasersupports 17 international data erasure standards such as DoD 5220.22-M (3 passes/7 passes), NATO, etc. You can choose any.
Click ‘Apply’ and then go back to ‘Home’ tab
Click ‘Erase Unused Space’ and then select the drive volume(s) from where you wish to erase deleted files in Windows 7
Click ‘Erase Now’ and confirm
The eraser task will take a while to finish depending on the erasure algorithm you chose, type of storage media, and interface. After eraser, click ‘No’ when the prompt appears.
As an alternative to BitRaser File Eraser, you can also use Microsoft Internals’ SDelete utility to erase deleted files in Windows 7. The steps are as follow,
Download SDelete utility from Microsoft Sysinternals website
Extract and place the SDelete.exe files on Desktop
Open Command Prompt in administrator mode
Then type following command, sdelete –p 5 X:Where X is the drive volume letter that contains deleted files.
Press ‘Enter’ and that’s it. Wait for the process to finish
With this, every deleted file on the selected storage media volume is erased. However, SDelete only erases file data. Consequently, the file names located in free disk space remain recoverable.
If your data is highly sensitive and confidential, do not use SDelete and prefer a file eraser tool such as BitRaser File Eraser that securely wipes every bit of data from Windows PC or supported drive volume.
Before selling, donation, sharing, or disposing of your storage media or devices with storage drives, always secure erase or wipe them to destroy deleted files beyond the scope of recovery. You can use a powerful file eraser tool such as BitRaser File Eraser or leverage the Microsoft’s SDelete utility.
Both works well enough but BitRaser File Eraser features 17 international data erasure algorithms, creates erasure report and generates certificate of erasure. Plus, the GUI interface makes erasing deleted files effortless.
Use SDelete only if you are familiar with command line tool. One typo, and you will end up losing every single file from your system beyond the scope of recovery.
Aruna Attri is a Senior Data Recovery Expert at Stellar®. She is a technology blogger and Windows expert. She has experience in Windows data recovery domain. She loves to troubleshoot Windows issue and write technical tips and tutorials.