Deleting private and sensitive files, emptying Recycle Bin, or formatting drive does not destroy your data permanently. Doing so only hides your files from the operating system. These files can be quickly retrieved by using freely available data recovery software. If you want to destroy your files beyond recovery—especially documents or files that contain sensitive information— you must shred them.
Shredding digital files refer to erasing data by overwriting with a pattern of 0s and 1s—making data recovery almost impossible. To shred files and folders in your PC, you need a file shredder software such as BitRaser File Eraser. You may also find a file shredder app in your antivirus software.
Don’t Just Delete, Always Shred Your Digital Files
To ensure your digital files are gone beyond recovery, shred them. However, most file shredding software does not effectively destroy your files beyond recovery as they use a basic pattern of 0s and 1s to overwrite data.
While data recovery software may fail to recover such shredded files, a data recovery expert can retrieve the files by using advanced data recovery techniques and forensic tools.
In contrast, a file shredding tool that implements international data erasure standards such as DoD 5220.22-M, NATO, Gutmann, etc., can effectively destroy your digital files and make them irrecoverable to a point where no data recovery software or service, including forensic tools, can retrieve useful information.
One such tool is BitRaser File Eraser that features 17 international data erasure standards such as DOD, NATO, Gutmann, etc. It generates a tamper-proof and digitally signed data erasure report that guarantees file destruction beyond the scope of recovery. This report can be used as a certificate of erasure to meet regulatory compliance with audits and data protection laws such as GDPR.
Alternatively, you can also use BitKiller—a popular open-source file shredding tool, which uses the Gutmann (35 passes) data erasure standard to shred files. However, it neither guarantees data destruction nor generates any erasure report or certificate.
Steps to Shred Digital Files with BitRaser File Eraser
Free download, install and launch BitRaser File Eraser
Click ‘Tools’, select Erasure Algorithm and Verification Method from the respective drop-down and click ‘Apply.’
Click the ‘Home’ tab and expand and select the files and folders that you wish to shred with desired data erasure standard beyond recovery
Alternatively, you can use the ‘Search File’ option to locate specific files or file types and destroy them permanently. Also, to create a certificate of erasure
Click ‘Erase Now’ at the bottom right corner. Click ‘Yes’ to confirm
Wait for the task to finish. Click ‘No’ when it prompts you to reboot
Then click ‘Erase Unused Space.’
Select a drive volume and click ‘Erase Now’. This will wipe free or empty hard drive storage which may contain previously deleted but recoverable files
Click ‘Yes’ this time to reboot the system
You may also shred a file directly from Windows File Explorer. After installing the BitRaser File Eraser software, right-click on a file or folder in Windows Explorer and choose ‘Erase with BitRaser’.
To make sure that your digital files are gone beyond recovery, shred them with the help of a file shredder software that implements international data erasure standards such as DoD 5220.22-M, NATO, Gutmann, etc.
You can use BitRaser File Eraser that features 17 international data erasure standards and generates a certificate of erasure to help meet statutory compliances and regulatory guidelines. Alternatively, you can also use an open-source file shredding tool—BitKiller—to shred your files with Gutmann data erasure standard.
And remember, ‘don’t just delete’, always erase, shred, or wipe your private data to destroy it beyond 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.