How to Permanently Erase Data From Your PC

One of the concerns when it comes to computer privacy and security is maintaining the security of deleted data. Most computer users think that if they send a file to the Recycle Bin it is deleted. Other PC users know they have to go one step further by emptying the Recycle Bin. What most PC users are not aware of is that even after you empty the Recycle Bin, the files are still somewhere on the computer. The data remains on your PC until it is replaced with other data or overwritten with new types of data.

Why the Data Remains on Your Computer

Data files that have been emptied out of the Recycle Bin remain on your computer because you computer maintains an index file to keep track of where the data is written, as well as the location of your data on the PC hard drive. If you employ software that is especially designed to retrieve data that has been deleted from the Recycle Bin, your PC can simply locate the lost data within the index file.

When you delete a file from the Recycle Bin, the data record is removed from the computers index of files. This means that the computer simply removes the file entry instead of deleting the entire data from the file.

How to Completely Erase the Data

The government and computer scientists use standards for securely erasing data for data security and the standards include overwriting the data with new data by using specific methods. Data that is not overwritten can be recovered manually by simply reading it from the hard drive.

There are a few methods that are used for data security by government agencies as well as many other organizations that need to ensure that confidential data is completely erased from computers.

  • Filling Zeros: The government and computer scientists use a process to completely erase data which is known as filling zeros. Filling zeros involves replacing the data with all zeros which has been found to completely erase the data by making it difficult to recover any of the data files.
  • Multiple Overwrites: This is a system that is used as added assurance that the data is completely erased from a hard drive. It involves overwriting the data on the disk at least 40 times with 40 different forms of new data files.

These are two methods of completely erasing data that are part of government security standards. If you do not know how to do this or do not know anyone who knows how to completely erase data from a PC hard drive, there is software that you can obtain to do the job.

There are several reputable brands on the market which completely erase all of your tracks from a computer hard drive by permanently erasing files from the index where your computer stores them, erasing all of your Internet activity including the stubborn Index.dat file, and destroying other files that anyone can view if they manually access the hard drive.

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When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

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ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser