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Windows 7: Using Eraser or SDelete

15 Mar 2017   #1
ICIT2LOL

Desk1 7 Home Prem / Desk2 10 Pro / Main lap Asus ROG 10 Pro 2 laptop Toshiba 7 Pro Asus P2520 7 & 10
 
 
Using Eraser or SDelete

Have been doing a bit of looking around at format v wiping a drive and cam across this How Do I Permanently Delete Files From My Hard Disk? | PCWorld now before I go heading off into the jungle has anyone ever used these softwares and just how good are they?

I am asking because I know just deleting files folders etc doesn't actually get rid of them and these looked like I could clear a fair bit of space on my drive.

Any thoughts please.


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15 Mar 2017   #2
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

None of these give you any more free space, than had you deleted them normally. All they do is make the deleted files unrecoverable. All you need is SDelete.

More background info and command line example:
Free Utility: SDelete

Option to insert it into Explorer context menu:
Permanently Delete - Add to Context Menu
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15 Mar 2017   #3
Callender

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

I've been using sDelete for a long time. However I don't use it from the context menu. I just use it to wipe free space after deleting files and I only wipe free space every month or so. If you want examples of usage here's a screenshot from RunCommand (I use RunCommand to store handy command lines)
Using Eraser or SDelete-sdelete.jpg
C:\Windows\System32\sdelete -p 1 -z -c C:

The above launches sDelete

-c Clean free space.
-p (no. of passes) Specifies number of overwrite passes (default is 1).
-z Zero free space (good for virtual disk optimization).

Like Golden says those utilities mentioned just securely delete files so they can't be recovered. You'd need to decide which files need secure deletion.

However if free space is wiped there's not really any need to worry about secure deletion. One pass with sDelete and files cannot be recovered.

For file and folder secure deletion on demand I've always used this: Blank And Secure 4.23 Portable tool to securely delete the data.

When you say just deleting files and folders doesn't get rid of them - actually it does, unless you allow deletion to your recycle bin. Once deleted space is marked as free.

These utilities mentioned are just a way to prevent file recovery using recovery software.


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15 Mar 2017   #4
ICIT2LOL

Desk1 7 Home Prem / Desk2 10 Pro / Main lap Asus ROG 10 Pro 2 laptop Toshiba 7 Pro Asus P2520 7 & 10
 
 

Thanks Colin and Callender so I have it correct SDelete will not actually remove the left over part of the file or folder?

I did see an analogy that described deleting say a file is like having a book and deleting that file was akin to tearing off the title page - the rest of the book was still there?

So if using SDelete is not going to give me more space then probably best left at the current status of just deleting normally.

The other thing I am not sure is of any use use is the wiping of free space on a drive it to me sounds a bit of a nonsense to wipe a space on a drive that has nothing on it

But if you think I have missed something I would appreciate any advice.
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15 Mar 2017   #5
Callender

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

As far as I know if you delete files they're deleted and the space is marked as free. The file header gets deleted so it can't be seen or found when using file explorer. The file still exists though and can be recovered using recovery software. It's not taking up space as the space is now free to be used. Eventually another file will overwrite that free space. Wiping free space or securely deleting files is just a way of making files unrecoverable or difficult to recover if anyone gets physical access to your machine.
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16 Mar 2017   #6
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ICIT2LOL View Post
The other thing I am not sure is of any use use is the wiping of free space on a drive it to me sounds a bit of a nonsense to wipe a space on a drive that has nothing on it

But if you think I have missed something I would appreciate any advice.
Free disk space could be a partition which has never had a file written to it.....or.....Free disk space could be a partition that appears to be empty, but in fact had files which were deleted from it at some point in the past. It depends what you mean by "free disk space"

By wiping free disk space you are in effect performing a secure delete on any previously deleted files after the fact, so to speak.

I wasn't aware SDelete could wipe free disk space. For wiping free disk space, I use the Cipher Windows command line tool. You could use either.

Cipher tutorial:
Cipher Command - Overwrite Deleted Data in Windows
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16 Mar 2017   #7
Barman58

Windows 10 Pro x64 x2 Windows 10 Enterprise x64, Ubuntu
 
 

What you have to be aware of is that the only way to securely "clean" old data from a hard disk is by total destruction of the physical hardware, you need to actually remove the platters (or chips in the case of SSD), and totally destroy them. There are as far as I am aware no wiping software that will be secure from one of the TLA's, (US Three Letter Agencies), or other professional data recovery agencies.

The best you can look to do is clean to a level to prevent the rest of us from reading your private musings, (or porn collection ).

You need to look for a system that writes random data to every part of the disk and repeats this a number of times.

A lot of available software will merely write a single string of zeros Once to the whole disk, this sounds safe but is not as there are simple recovery algorithms that can reverse this - Back in the 1980's I have an incident that a company director formatted his system twice or three times "accidentally" - with the technology available at that time I managed to recover almost 100% of the data on the disk without issue, the only data that I lost was that in use at the time of the forced format, basically the temp files used by the word processor.

If you are thinking of selling on a system and wish to clear all data, with the current cost of Hardware I would be tempted to buy a basic HDD and fit it into the hardware before sale
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16 Mar 2017   #8
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

Just my thoughts.

If one wants to be perfectly sure that no data can be retrieve from a old drive, Nigel has the best idea. Physically destroy the drive.

Years ago I bought Driver Scrubbe 2.
You could select from 1 pass on a drive and up to 7 passes. If one wanted even better one could select Gutmann's wipe. A 500 GB drive would take for ever to complete even 3 layers of wiping. Plus the wear and tear on the drive doing all these wipes wasn't worth it.

Today I just use P/W Mini Tool. It does more than enough clean wipe to meet my needs.

You can also use Ccleaner and do from 1 to 35 passes to wipe a drive.

I know I don't have any thing on a drive that would need more than 1 pass to wipe.

So Using Eraser or SDelete or another program really doesn't matter.
Pick a program and use it. Unless one is worried about some government agency doing a search you should be okay.

Jack
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16 Mar 2017   #9
ICIT2LOL

Desk1 7 Home Prem / Desk2 10 Pro / Main lap Asus ROG 10 Pro 2 laptop Toshiba 7 Pro Asus P2520 7 & 10
 
 

Ok I have got the gist of it now so say for example I fill the drive with new info/data the old files will be overwritten and sort of non recoverable excepting that Nigel has recovered data from drive that have been wiped so in theory the old stuff could be recovered.

Now I usually use clean, clean all (if I am feeling super meticulous) and PW wipe feature. Failing that I use a new drive. So I am assuming stuff like Dariks Nuke stuff and the like are really not what they are cracked up to be.

Having said all that I don't have much stuff on my drives that would interest many people my main concern is that if I am going to reuse a drive that it is clean of the previous install as I really am not a fan of just formatting to do the clean up job. Maybe I am wrong but it is something I do advise members in the forum who are not familiar with such stuff to do the same.

So I would like to know what anyone advises in that scenario??
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16 Mar 2017   #10
lehnerus2000

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18.2 MATE, W10 Home, #All 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ICIT2LOL View Post
Ok I have got the gist of it now so say for example I fill the drive with new info/data the old files will be overwritten and sort of non recoverable excepting that Nigel has recovered data from drive that have been wiped so in theory the old stuff could be recovered.
My understanding is that:
  • Writing data creates a magnetic field that is wider than the Read Track
  • Mechanical systems vibrate/wobble (i.e. the HDD Platters and Read/Write Arm)
  • Temperature changes cause expansion and/or contraction
This means that the data is also written to areas outside of the Read Track.
It also means that writing new data to the track won't guarantee a perfect overwrite of the old data.
The picture below assumes perfect alignment (i.e. no wobble).
Using Eraser or SDelete-hdd-data-write.png
Special equipment can then be used read data from outside the standard Read Track position.
I read articles that have claimed that it is possible to recover data that has been overwritten 100 times.

Obviously solid state storage doesn't suffer from HDD Platter and/or Read/Write Arm issues.


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 Using Eraser or SDelete




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