Monday, January 20, 2014

File Shredder Recommendation?

I need a program for not just deleting files, but making sure that they are completely unrecoverable for my wife's old desktop PC.  I could just run the install from the recovery partition, but then there would be about eight zillion Windows XP security updates to install.  Any suggestions?

16 comments:

Kevin said...

I have a program called Eraser on my desktop at home that has a bunch of secure erase modes using a right-click selection for immediate erasure or scheduled background erases.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2024250/review-eraser-removes-files-safely-and-permanently.html

Billy Oblivion said...

If you're going to hand the machine off to someone else I'd suggest you go through the pain of running a NIST compliant secure wipe over everything and then reinstall Windows XP from scratch.

Mainly because you really want to nuke the windows registry as well.

Marc C. said...

Darik's boot and nuke. Download, burn disc, boot from disk, turn it loose.
http://www.dban.org/

Jim Horn said...

CCleaner has "Drive Wiper" in its Tools tab. It can erase the free space on a disk or the entire disk with 1, 3, 7 or 35 overwrites. Great utility for general disk maintenance too. I've used it for years; highly recommended by many gurus. http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

Rob said...

http://www.dban.org/

Nathan Mates said...

I like sdelete from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx

100% free, quick download. Can wipe individual files, or all unused space on a HD to ensure that any old file fragments are gone.

jon spencer said...

Replace the hard drives with new ones.
Then destroy the old one(s) yourself.

Liz C. said...

I use Easy File Shredder and it has been working well for me. Easy to use, good shredding algorithms, disk wiping function.

Jon said...

Target practice. Works like a charm.

Stephen said...

Try BleachBit. It has a file erase option, but also cleans up other items. http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/

mariner said...

If you're willing to try Linux, download Puppy Linux:

http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview%20and%20Getting%20Started.htm

Burn it to a CD or write to a USB thumb drive so you can boot from it.

Then go here and skip to the section on "shred".

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Securely_wipe_disk

The hard drive will be either /dev/hda or (more likely) /dev/sda, depending on whether it appears to the operating system as IDE or SCSI.

The second example command line is to overwrite in one pass the entire drive with pseudo-random digits; you could use "-n" to perform more than one pass.

You may contact me by email if you'd like more info.

mariner said...

The only two ways I know to be sure data is unrecoverable are 1) remove the hard drive and 2) use a secure delete utility to wipe the entire hard drive.

Your call whether to re-install the OS or let the buyer do that; if you're no longer using the computer is eleventy-gazillion updates really a problem? Just set the box aside and let it do as it will, perhaps overnight.

Sigivald said...

Overwrite with zeroes, problem solved - any number of tools can do that, maybe even Windows can natively.

In the real world, that makes data unrecoverable; no need for multiple passes of random data.

Clayton said...

I'm not particularly worried about the NSA recovering data from my wife's hard disk. (What are they going to do with it? Prove that Shakespeare did not write those plays?) sdelete is probably sufficient.

mariner said...

It would be more interesting if someone could prove that Shakespeare DID write all those plays.

From my reading I gather that would be VERY unlikely.

Clayton said...

Level of proof is always the problem. But there are many contemporaries of Shakespeare who attributed the plays to him -- and some were rivals who would have taken any opportunity to demolish him if there was even a hint that he was not the author.

There is a very entertaining book, James Shapiro's Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? that examines the origin of the counterclaim. It was largely the work product of a nineteenth century American woman with some sort of mental illness problem. Class consciousness, especially in England, blew up a rather bizarre claim into an entire school of semiserious discussion, rather like global warming, but without government subsidies.