Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let By Gone's be By Gone's

You may or may not know that when you drag items to the trash on your computer, they aren't permanently deleted. Just watch an episode of your favorite CSI show, and you'll see that its possible to recover files that haven't been deleted properly. And while I'm sure you're not guilty of any CSI type crimes (or are you?), I'm sure you want to figure out how to permanently delete your files and keep your private things private -- after all everyone has to have some secrets!
Why emptying your recycling bin doesn't permanently delete your files
When you tell your computer to empty its recycling bin, your operating system only deletes the records it has of the files you want to delete. Yet the files still remain on the hard drive memory.
Here's an analogy: If you think of your files as books in a library and you decide you no longer have use for a certain book. Emptying the trash is equivalent to removing the entry in the library's card catalog. The book is still there but not easily found by everyday visitors. But if someone really wanted to find it, and had a clue where to look, they quite possibly do so since it is still physically there.
What it means to permanently delete a file
To permanently delete a file, you need to not only delete its record, but also overwrite the physical portion of the hard drive where it lives. A low level format is equivalent to replacing your private file with random bits (1's and 0's). Continuing with the library analogy you need to remove remove the book, shred it, light up in flames and possibly replace it with a different book
Do it right and do it better
While performing a defragmentation will probably do the trick, it's really not a viable solution. Waiting for disk defragmentation is not something I'd do every time I wanted to do a permanent deletion. The defragmentation process is way too long. The right way to how to permanently and quickly delete files is to use a program specifically designed for that purpose. You're in luck too because most Windows operating systems have a command line tool called CIPHER to do the trick!
Here's how to use CIPHER:
1. After closing all windows, open up a command window.
2. Type the following: cipher /w:�driveletter:�foldername where driveletter and foldername correspond to the drive a location of where your deleted file used to live.
3. Sit back and enjoy your freedom and privacy while your file is truly permanently deleted!
Here's an example:
I have a picture I want permanently deleted which stored on my computer at the following location:
After deleting this picture and emptying the recycle bin, I would type the following (in a command prompt) to ensure that I can still run for senator (as long as they don't catch me in the airport bathroom):
C:>cipher /w:C:�images
I can then move on to my life of privacy and carefree surfing!

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