Permanently deleting files

By pcinfo
Sep 6, 2011
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  1. I recently wanted to get rid of some confidential files from my hard drive so I did the following:

    1) deleted them using the standard delete function in windows,
    2) filled the hard drive with junk files (old excel and .dat files) at least once (but I think I did it twice),
    3) reformatted the hard drive and re-installed the operating system
    4) filled the hard drive with more junk files (a different type this time - a collection of ms office documents and videos)
    5) used the standard delete function in windows to clear that lot so the hard drive was 'clear' again.

    So my question is: Does that sound sufficient to remove the possibility of the confidential files ever being recovered (or at least make it very, very difficult to do so)?

    Since doing the above, I've seen programmes which can fill the hard drive with junk data to erase confidential documents and I'm wondering if I should have used one of those or whether they essentially do the same thing as I've done (I'm assuming most people don't have 80 gigs of junk data to fill their hard drive like I do!).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Powah

    Powah TS Rookie Posts: 16

    If it really is that important to you, why not just "DBAN" your hard drive and buy a new one? Just a suggestion im throwing out there :)
  3. pcinfo

    pcinfo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Won't be able to do that as it's a work machine which will be recycled - the machines are only formatted here before recycling (I know that's a bit of a lame way to recycle a computer)...
  4. Powah

    Powah TS Rookie Posts: 16

    Yea know how you feel, i work in a council and we have to destroy hard drives before recycling them also. But never had to keep a hard drive while trying to get rid of files like you.
  5. pcinfo

    pcinfo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    we're only supposed to save to the network drive where I work - which is why they only re-format to recycle them.
  6. Teranius

    Teranius TS Rookie Posts: 115

    Instead of using a regular delete function you could use shift+delete, which is a permanent delete that bypasses the recycle bin completely.

    As to whether it can be recovered, yes it can. I've seen military grade recovery programs that were able to recover some data files even after someone had taken a 10 pound hammer to the physical drive. The only way I've seen to truly erase data from a drive is to fry it in a high-power microwave, which then leaves it useless, except as a paperweight if you feel so inclined :)
  7. pcinfo

    pcinfo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your reply Teranius. It's only confidential work files so nothing anyone at the level you're talking about (i.e. military) would be interested - I'm talking more about someone who gets hold of the drive and uses one of the more standard file recovery programmes which are more generally available to anyone - is the approach I've taken good enough to stop (or at least make it very difficult for) an amateur file snooper from getting anything off of the drive.
  8. Teranius

    Teranius TS Rookie Posts: 115

    It should be. The best open market recovery program I've used and heard of could only go 2 formats deep, and then most of the files were corrupted gibberish. Also as long as the computer itself is in a secure environment, which I derive from what you've mentioned it is, I wouldn't be too worried about data theft in this way.
  9. pcinfo

    pcinfo TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for that :)

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