permanently deleting files from my computer's hard drive

  pcinfo 14:45 07 Sep 2011

Permanently deleting files: 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!

  gengiscant 14:52 07 Sep 2011

Kill didk

Nuke and boot

I have used both these on occaision and are very good.

  pcinfo 15:04 07 Sep 2011

Hi gengiscant - Thanks for that. Unfortunately I don't have the drive any longer. It's in a work machine which has been recycled. The problem is that the tech staff here only do a standard format before recycling as staff where I work are not supposed to save to the machine's hard drive (we're supposed to use a secure network drive - hence why tech staff don't feel the need to do much to protect against data theft when recycling a machine).

I made the mistake of saving some confidential files on the hard drive so I'm hoping the approach I've used will be good enough to prevent file recovery (or make if very difficult) by an amatuer file snooper using one of the generally available file recovery programmes (should my old hard drive fall into the wrong hands) - any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

  gengiscant 15:48 07 Sep 2011

I am a little puzzled, why should you think that A:anyone is even remotely interested in what was on the drive beforehand. B:Why would anyone think that there was anything on the drive worth looking for. I am assuming that the PC's are recycled with an operating system installed and that whoever bought it would actually be wanting a working PC not to use file recovery programs on the of chance that something vaguely confidential will turn up.

I think that you are irrationally concerned and you have done more than enough to overwrite any confidential files.I am sorry if I sound a bit harsh but compared to what I do to unwanted drives which I seem to be buying and selling on a regular basis,it is unlikely that an amateur will be able to discover your files.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 16:25 07 Sep 2011

Yes what you have done will prevent anyone other than a forensic team any access to your files

  john bunyan 16:43 07 Sep 2011

There is a feature in CCleaner Options/ Settings /Secure Deletion where you can overwrite files to various levels to satisfy US security folk. Takes a long time however

  robin_x 18:01 07 Sep 2011

Might just be paranoia and shaggy dog stories, but no sense in being careless.

Even an email address and a real address can be valuable.

  letsgetrdy 00:03 08 Sep 2011

It's a big miss conception that data can be easily recovered, I have a degree in Computer Forensics. Our standard procedure for clearing a drive was to just reformat the drive, using a different File System than the previous. Then Reverting. I.E. From NTFS, TO EXT4.. then back to NTFS for a usable clean drive.

Failing that, the ultra sensitive people.. can use encryption to securely cleanse a drive.

  pcinfo 10:09 09 Sep 2011

Thanks for all the replies - very useful :)

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