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How to permanently delete files


OSNN Senior Addict
A lot of people believe that when they empty their deleted files from the Recycle bin then these files are permanently deleted from their hard drive. They're wrong! According to Microsoft (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/315672?):
When you delete files or folders, the data is not initially removed from the hard disk. Instead, the space on the disk that was occupied by the deleted data is "deallocated." After it is deallocated, the space is available for use when new data is written to the disk. Until the space is overwritten, it is possible to recover the deleted data by using a low-level disk editor or data-recovery software.
So how exactly do you permanently delete your files that you don't want other people to get their hands on? Microsoft offers a free command line utility called SDelete. You can use SDelete to securely delete all your files.

Using SDelete

SDelete is a command line utility that takes a number of options. In any given use, it allows you to delete one or more files and/or directories, or to cleanse the free space on a logical disk. SDelete accepts wild card characters as part of the directory or file specifier.
Usage: sdelete [-p passes] [-s] [-q] <file or directory>
sdelete [-p passes] [-z|-c] [drive letter]

-cZero free space (good for virtual disk optimization).-p passesSpecifies number of overwrite passes.-sRecurse subdirectories.-qDon't print errors (quiet).-zCleanse free space.

To learn more about SDelete and how it works see this article:


Political User
there's also a pretty cool free software called eraser

it features different methods and u can also set the number of passes
plus it integrates into windows explorer so u can right click a file and safe delete it.. or safe clean ur recycle bin

its quite nice :)


.. Commodore ..
Political User
This makes me wish I still had the Floppy drive that a good friend of mine from the FBI gave me. It would erase a drive really good - It was used by the government to erase their drives :)
look for either boot and nuke (linux bootable flash/cd/floppy image) or acronis disk director suite/true image both are really good at erasing disks beyond government requirements.


Political User

well.. eraser can use US DoD 5220-22.M which "is sometimes cited as a standard for sanitization to counter data remanence." (so wikipedia says: D)


█▄█ ▀█▄ █
Political User
or if like me you have a friend that does metal work - use a few of his tools - they will erase the drive!! :p
That's actually not true. Bullets, magnets, drills, etc are not foolproof. There are people who specialize in recovering data from drives like that. From what I understand, software passes are actually the most effective (and several passes at that). That's all I can really say about it, but I have seen it happen.

As an aside, I can recommend Blancco. You can get a trial, but it's a pay for utility with amazing capabilities


PrOuD InDiAn
To remove all data from the hard drive you need to Purge the drive rather than format it. There are a number of utilities out there that will do it. In Norton Utilities there used to be a DOS program that would do this, it seems now there is a similar program called Norton WipeInfo in the Norton Systemworks Basic and Premier packs.

Alternatively there are free clones of this software such aa Heidi's Eraser


or Darik's Boot and Nuke

And also

Also just using a magnet on a hard disk wouldn't guarantee you've totally destroyed all the data anyway, as some drives can still work and still have most of the data on them even after being put next to a large magnet.

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