Whether you're selling your PC or laptop, or merely want to securely delete a few files so no-one sees them, Eraser 6 will do the job quickly and quietly. Here's how to use it. UPDATED 11th October 2013

See also: Top tips for deleting files permanently

When you delete a file in Windows, it isn't really gone. Windows merely deletes the information about where the file is located on the disk, and marks the space it occupies as available for new files. That's why it's sometimes possible to recover deleted files, so long as new files haven't been written over them.

Step 1. Download the latest stable version of Eraser 6 (avoid using beta versions) and install it, accepting all the default settings. Unlike the DiskDigger undeletion utility, which you shouldn't install on the drive that contains the files you're trying to recover, you can install Eraser on any convenient drive, including your main hard disk.

 Download Eraser 6

Step 2. Run Eraser 6 and you’ll see an empty Erase Schedule. We’re going to securely delete a file manually, though, so select New Task from the Erase Schedule menu to display the Task Properties window and ensure Run Manually is selected as the Task Type. Click on Add Data to display the Select Data to Erase window.

Create a new task

Step 3. Make sure File is selected and click Browse to select the file or files you want to delete before clicking on Ok. Note that we’re choosing to delete the photo of a sign carrying the words “Keep Out”. Click on Open (a misnomer) and then OK and OK again. Finally, in the ‘Erase Schedule’ right-click on the file and select Run now from the menu.

Choose which files to delete

Step 4. The file is now deleted without trace so you can close Eraser 6. However, just to prove it, we tried to retrieve it using DiskDigger using the same process described in our file recovery guide. Try as we might though, even using the ‘Dig Deeper’ option, DiskDigger revealed no sign of our securely deleted photo.

 Prove that file can't be recovered