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Windows 7: Windows 7 File Shredder


28 Dec 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Windows 7 File Shredder

Hi all,

I have a couple of questions about the file shredding program which came with my Windows 7 OS. Firstly is it any good, and secondly if not, what would you recommend using instead, and what makes the difference? My limited understanding of shredding is that when you delete a file only the link to the stored information is actually erased, and the data can be reconstructed, so sensitive legal or financial documents should be shredded, which rewrites over that area of memory on the hard drive with lines of meaningless data until the underlying file is unreconstructable. Given that the shredder that came with Windows 7 seems to work fine and is free, is there any point using a different one? I've seen Eraser mentioned as a good alternative, but if a file is shredded it's shredded, right?

Many thanks.

EDIT - Now that I look it seems the one that comes with the OS is a trial version, so I suppose I'm looking for the best freeware that you can recommend for Windows 7 in any case. Ta.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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28 Dec 2010   #2

Windows 8.1 Pro RTM x64
 
 

Hi Titanomachy and welcome to Windows 7 Forums

Windows 7 does not come with a file shredding program - I think you're getting confused with the recycle bin.

Let's use an example. Suppose you had a sheet of A4 paper with personal information on it, and you want to securely dispose of it. At one time, you could simply throw it onto an open fire and it would be burnt leaving behind a pile of ash that could not be reconstituted into the original piece of paper. These days, that is not practical due to the demise of open fires and environmental pressures, so alternative methods need to be used. The main method is shredding. Shredding is merely the division of the paper into numerous strips. Unfortunately, with shredding it is still possible to reconstruct the original if it isn't cut up into a sufficient number of strips (remember, even cutting it in half is still a form of shredding). All it requires is someone with a bit of patience and time to piece the strips back together again. To counteract this, cross-cut shredders are available which not only cut the paper vertically into strips but horizontally as well making the job of putting the pieces back together again virtually impossible. I say virtually, because if it isn't divided up into sufficient pieces it is still possible to reconstruct the original.

Back to the computer. When a file is deleted in the normal way, it is placed in the recycle bin and still remains intact and recoverable. Even emptying the bin doesn't actually delete the file, it just unallocates the sectors occupied by it. The file data still remains until it is overwritten by other data. It is for this very reason that data recovery programs are able to do their job of recovering information. To securely delete information, you need to overwrite the sectors where the data was stored a sufficient number of times to render the use of data recovery programs impractical. There are a number of such programs available (see below) both free and paid for.

File Shredder
Eraser
UltraSentry - secure file delete, internet history removal, cookie delete, registry cleaner
Jetico - Permanently Delete Files With BCWipe
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Dec 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks for the welcome and the information Dwarf. It's definitely a file shredding program that I've been using, but perhaps it just came as part of the package with the laptop (it's an Acer, few weeks old). I've installed and am now using the GNU File Shredder which seems to do the trick, although short of trying to run a recovery program on the docs I've shredded I suppose it's difficult to ascertain how final the shredding process is.

Many thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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28 Dec 2010   #4

Windows 7 x64 Home Premium
 
 

Titanomachy- I perfer to use the 7 pass Schneier Algorithm in Eraser which contains 5 passes of pseudo-random data in that most of the 35 passes in the Gutmann method no longer apply to the modern HDDs we use.

~Maxx~
.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks Maxxwire, I've downloaded Eraser now and will use that. Another thing, I've read a lot of posts mentioning registry cleaning, what does that involve?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

One more free tool for your consideration ... CCleaner. It offers 1, 3, 7, or 35 passes and you can select the drive(s) you want wiped.

Attachment 128742

Registry cleaning info:

What is a good, reliable registry cleaner?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thank you marsmimar, great help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Titanomachy View Post
Thank you marsmimar, great help.
You're welcome. Good to have you on board the Forum!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #9

Windows 7 x64 Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by marsmimar View Post
One more free tool for your consideration ... CCleaner. It offers 1, 3, 7, or 35 passes and you can select the drive(s) you want wiped.
I've been using CCleaner every day for several years and I use its version of the 35 pass Gutmann algorithm for casual every day deletions realizing that most of the 35 passes don't apply to my modern hard drive in fact 7 passes of the Schneier algorithem in Eraser takes much longer than how ever many passes CCleaner uses of the 35 pass Gutmann algorithm.

"Most of the patterns in the Gutmann method were designed for older MFM/RLL encoded disks. Relatively modern drives no longer use these older encoding techniques, making many of the patterns specified by Gutmann superfluous. Moreover, since about 2001, ATA IDE and SATA hard drive manufacturer designs include support for the “Secure Erase” standard, obviating the need to apply the Gutmann method when erasing an entire drive"

~Maxx~

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jan 2011   #10

Windows 7 x64 Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Titanomachy View Post
Thanks Maxxwire, I've downloaded Eraser now and will use that. Another thing, I've read a lot of posts mentioning registry cleaning, what does that involve?
Eraser is a very powerful tool so use it with caution because once something is Erased you can not get it back from the drive its been Erased from!

Registry Cleaning is a very hot topic around here, but basically if you don't know a lot about the Registry its best to just stick with a very basic and simple Registry Cleaner like the one in CCleaner.

~Maxx~

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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