With news of data privacy concerns leading the headlines daily, the need to protect sensitive data files has never been more paramount. Simple steps to secure existing data in cloud storage and on local devices can provide active security to your data. Unfortunately, once that data is no longer useful and scheduled to be deleted, extra precaution must be taken to guarantee that recovery is not possible.
When data is deleted from a storage drive, the information is not removed. Most systems merely remove directory information that leads to the file leaving the sectors available to be used again. Until new data is written over this location, the original file is still there and it may still be accessible. It is also still possible to access files on a reformatted drive for the very same reasons.
So How Do You Securely Wipe Data?
To remove data securely from a drive, consumers must use an after market program that will actively overwrite sectors on a drive that the files were stored on. Several free options are available that will provide the ability to overwrite existing files.
The first option to overwrite files that need to be securely wiped is CCleaner. The process is simple to perform. Delete any files that need to be securely removed from your storage media in the normal way and then access CCleaner. Follow these steps:
- Select the "Tools" tab
- Select "Drive Wiper"
- Set "Wipe" to "Free Space Only"
- Select the number of overwrite passes
- Chose the location of the drive
- Click the "Wipe" button in the bottom right corner
This process should remove any data recently deleted through normal means and render the information unrecoverable.
The next option for securely wiping files from a storage drive is the program Eraser.
The program integrates with Windows Explorer and provides selectable options in the right-click menu. There will be two choices for removing data securely with Eraser: "Erase" which will immediately remove and overwrite information and "Erase on Restart" which postpones the process until the next restart of the client system.
Choose the selection that best fits the needs of the file and it will be overwritten and securely wiped.