Why Secure file Deletion is Needed
Why Secure file Deletion is Needed. When deleting files on your computer you may ask yourself where the files go? You just click a button and instantly the file is gone? How does it just disappear and free up hard drive space? When deleting a file, a lot more goes into the process then just throwing a file in trash and hitting “Empty recycle bin”. When you delete a file you are just replacing data on the hard drive with other data. When you delete the file, you are putting newer data, over older data. A lot of the files you “delete” are still there. A hard drive is made of zeros. When you download files, or fill up your hard drive, you write numbers over that data. The hard drive starts at “000”, you then download and install Mozilla FireFox, the hard drive then turns into “123”. Data is written onto those zeros taking up hard drive space. When you delete the data it is supposed to turn back into zeros. This is not always the case. Most times the data still leaves traces it was there, maybe not “123” exact. Maybe just “023”. But the data is still there. The data is recoverable. Some programs are made to recover files you deleted. But, this can be used for malicious intent. If you sell your computer the data can be restored if not wiped properly. There are methods called micro data analysis that the government uses to recover data from hackers, or terrorist hard drives. They can go past the “000” and micro-analyze each zero individually. Especially if the data was not deleted properly they may blatantly see the “23” pieces of data. Deleting your data properly is key for your own security.
Why do I need this, I have nothing to hide?
The infamous “I have nothing to hide” attitude always comes into play. Hackers can get into your computer and control it remotely from their own home. They can transfer files back and forth. If your computer is left on and unattended, they can run restoration programs and retrieve your “deleted” data. If your computer is physically stolen they have access to the full drive, and can recover past files, photos, videos, and your personal data. Lastly not deleting your files fully can leave your computer full with bloatware, and or junk files. Your hard drive may appear to have more data on it than it really does, cause the file was poorly deleted so it leaves code appearing that the space is taken up. If you delete a twenty gigabyte file when done it may say only fifteen gigabytes was deleted because the data was deleted but still left unneeded code behind.
How can I delete my data safely and/or properly?
There are many programs to delete data securely. Doing it manually would take long amounts of time, and be a hassle. The number one free program recommenced to do this job is CCleaner. CCleaner is a computer optimizer. The program is 100% free. It does not come with any spyware, bloatware, toolbars, or anything unneeded. Piriform is a trusted company and has many safe computer optimization products that computer technicians often recommend. Once you install the program it will bring you to a scary looking screen with lots of check marks and whatnot. Don’t worry, CCleaner wont bite, it will clean! On the left side click options>advanced. Go to the secure deletion tab, and choose your pass amount. When deleting a file I like to think of it similar to a fruit. When you take an apple and chop it in half, you can probably piece the apple together to its original form. When chopping the apple into 7 pieces, it will be extremely hard to put it back into its original apple form. Chopping it into 35 pieces will make it virtually impossible to piece into apple form. Data is the same way. One pass means deleting the data, and chopping each piece in half. Three, and seven is chopping it into three, or seven pieces. This is usually sufficient for data to be irrecoverable. Thirty fives passes (a.k.a. GutMann) is the most complex way of deleting your data. It will chop every piece of data, mix it up, and overwrite it 35 times. This makes your data virtually impossible to recover or even see it was there. The government, and mega corps use gutmann to delete any form of data. They don’t want the data to be able to be recovered, or even seen. They want it gone, forever. Gutmann makes the file deletion process take a considerably larger amount of time, but its your files and your security at risk. You choose what you want. Choose your pass amount, and check “Wipe Alternate Data Streams”, and “Wipe Cluster Tips” for extra security. Navigate back to the cleaner tab and choose what you want to delete. If you just want to delete files in your recycle bin make sure everything is unchecked, and only “Empty Recycle Bin” is checked. Some want to know my personal settings. The picture below shows my settings. I have blocked out some of my programs and computer data. But, I have almost everything checked. When I run this program I clean all my browsers data (logs me out of everything, history cleared, almost everything wiped), all my temporary data, and useless application data. This keeps my computer at optimal speed, and extremely secured. I run this everyday, some run it once a week, or once a month, but I prefer to keep my data cleaned off for optimal security, and performance.
I clean all this with the Gutmann (35 passes) method. This is for optimal security, and optimal computer performance. If you have deleted sensitive files in an unsecured way in the past, CCleaner can still clean it. Navigate to Tools>Drive Wiper. Choose the hard drive you want to clean. C: is your main hard drive that you are using right now. Choose your pass amount, and if you want to fully wipe the drive (this will delete everything on the drive, only do this with flash drives, or external drives), or just wipe free space (this will clean off the “023” to “000”). This will securely wipe off that old data your hard drive may have not deleted securely, or fully. This can make your drive faster, and clean it up. Even if you have deleted the data securely in the past, wiping free space doesn’t hurt. It just re-wipes those zeros and makes sure they are scrubbed clean. When wiping a drive fully (How to wipe a Hard Drive Safely and Securely) it can take a long time. If you have an old external drive with junk on it, plug it in, check it, then wipe it clean. If you stop midway into deletion you will just have to format the drive. Once you hit “Wipe” there is no going back. Stopping once started will make the drive appear corrupt. You will just have a unusable drive. All you need to do it double click on the drive, and it will say inaccessible, would you like to format. If you want it to be usable, go ahead and format the drive. It will take a few seconds, the drive and all data will be wiped off, and the drive will be usable again. But either way the data will be wiped once started. Alternative programs are Spybot search and destroy, Eraser, and BleachBit.
Its your data, you should be able to choose how you want it deleted. Secure file deletion these days is key. It can be private pictures begin recovered by a hacker, or thief. It can be important work data that no one else can lay eyes on. It may even be a school essay. When your deleting it, make sure its done the right way. This is Why Secure file Deletion is Needed.