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How to Securely Delete Sensitive Files & Documents

Isn't right clicking and deleting or emptying my Recycle Bin enough?

Quick answer – NO! NO! NO!

So you’ve got a file on your computer that you want to obliterate?    And in GP training, that might well be consultations that you have recorded onto a hard stick or it might be reports on trainees etc.   Well, it’s going to take a lot more than dragging and dropping it into the little trash can at the corner of your desktop if you want to make sure you remove it securely.  Your computer’s trash bin is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  Trust me – it only removes the name a file from your computer.   The actual file is still there – until it gets overwritten by other new data – and until that happens – IT IS RETREIVABLE!!!    Right clicking on a file and selecting delete only deletes the virtual pathway to it.  Even when you empty the Recycle bin – it will still be there, only the name will be removed so it is not overtly visible.

How do I erase the file permanently then?

The file is still saved in your hard drive, but now it’s just more difficult to access.   I want to show you a quick easy and effective way of getting rid of that file once and for all.   Basically, to remove the file, it needs overwriting with other data – even just a series of 0s and 1s.    Think of it like scribbling over written words on a piece of paper. Even if you erase pencil marks or use white out on pen, there are still things you can do to read the words. But, if you write over those words enough before erasing them or covering them, then they are truly illegible.

  • The program to do that is called Eraser (for Windows)
  • What it does: Overwrites specific files
  • Download it here.

How to use Eraser

  • It’s really simple.  Download and install Eraser.
  • To use Eraser, just right-click on the condemned file, click on the Eraser icon and select erase.
  • You can choose how many times you want to overwrite the file, too. While 30+ overwrites might give you more peace of mind, you’re probably fine with 7.
  • Once Eraser has done its job, you can relax with the knowledge that it’s now nearly impossible to read.
  • You can also set Eraser to clear out your trash bin and schedule automatic deletions if you’re producing a lot of sensitive files that you need to delete.

Two great videos

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