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Are files deleted from recycle bin secure in Windows 7?


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8 replies to this topic

#1 bellisimo

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Posted 14 June 2015 - 06:23 PM

I just realized that I may have made a big mistake.  Some time ago, I typed all of my passwords onto a thumb drive using Microsoft Word.  I then deleted them all and deleted them again from the recycle bin.  Are those deleted passwords now accessible to hackers or malware?

 

Thank you,

 

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#2 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 14 June 2015 - 06:36 PM

As you are no doubt aware nothing is deleted from Windows until you empty the recycle bin but deleting a file does not actually wipe the data on the hard drive, it merely removes the file's address from the file allocation table leaving the space free for future use. If this space is not used by a later file, the data is still there. This is how recovery software  like Recuva is able to work.

 

So yes, it is possible for someone to access your hard drive and recover deleted data from it. But, since they would have to run some sort of recovery software the possibility is very slight. I can think of two ways to eliminate the risk. One would be to do a defrag since the moving of files would almost certainly overwrite the sectors used. The other is to use a wiping software to overwrite unused sectors, but carefully !  One example would be Ccleaner by Revo which includes an option to wipe unused sectors.

 

Personally I would think hard before using this sort of tool and definitely make sure that all my data on the drive was backed up first.

 

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#3 O.T.T.

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 02:27 AM

You can search for the file with Recuva and if it's found, do a secure delete on that file only.

 

I use AxCrypt for encrypting files, it has an option (rightclick menu) for secure deletion of individual files. I find it very handy.

 

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#4 rp88

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 12:25 PM

If private files were deleted from the computer a long time ago then if the computer has had a lot of disk use since then thwy might have been overwritten by something else already, they might however still be there in the free space on the disc and be recoverable unless fotware is used to overwrite the free space on the disc. 1 pass of overwriting should be enough. CCleaner can overwrite free space like this(P.S. CCleaner is made by piriform).

If you have other private files which have not been deleted yet then you could save yourself the trouble of needing to run free space overwrites for them by using a secure deletion tool for them. If you have AVG as your antivirus it has such a tool built in, there are also many other programs which either exist solely to securely delete files or contan functions to do so alongside their main uses. These all work the same way in principle, overwrite the file with junk data so it cannot be recovered.

As for files on the USB, things are a bit different here, when you delete a file from a USB the file is usually actually erased, unlike files deleted from HDD hard drives (where the file's location is just forgotten but the file remains until overwritten). To be sure you might want to format the USB (which will erase ALL the data on it, so first copy off of it anything you want to keep), or if it is a really cheap USB you might just want to submerge it in water for a while then hit it repeatedly with a hammer, making sure to have copied from it onto other devices any files you value. If you choose to smash the USB into oblivion it is probably best to format it first anyway, just in case.

Edited by rp88, 15 June 2015 - 12:25 PM.

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#5 bellisimo

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Posted 15 June 2015 - 01:34 PM

Thank you all for responding to my post and for the helpful information you have given me.

 

I should have mentioned in my original post that the files were deleted and re-deleted on my C: Drive, which is a Kingston SSD.

 

I used Recuva and it found a lot of files from yesterday.  The passwords were typed on Microsoft Word documents though, and I didn't see anything among the recovered files that looked like a word document.

 

I'm thinking I should maybe just write some new passwords.

 

Thanks again for all your help and advice.  I really appreciate it.

 

bellisimo



#6 AlicePhoebe

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 04:30 AM

This is difficult but not impossible. There are a few applications which can help recover deleted items, usually when you delete a file and then empty your recycle bin, its contents will not be immediately destroyed, Windows simply marks the hard drive space as being available for use by changing one character in the file table so that the file entry won't be displayed in My Computer or a commandline DIR command, etc. 

 

you can use some recycle bin recovery software.

NOTE:

1. Files deleted by hitting Shift+Delete will not be listed in recycle bin.

2. Files removed from portable device which is connected to computer will not been stored in recycle bin.

Edited by AlicePhoebe, 16 June 2015 - 04:36 AM.


#7 Nikhil_CV

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 02:36 AM

Next time you need to save your passwords, I would recommend any of below tools:
Lastpass
Keypass
Norton ID safe
All can store your passwords and other secure data securely(Like credit card etc [which I don't appreciate being stored] ) and have browser integration to deploy them effectively...
They also implement cloud storage for better access across devices.

Edited by Nikhil_CV, 10 July 2015 - 02:37 AM.

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#8 quietman7

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 04:43 AM

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#9 Didier Stevens

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:27 AM

Are those deleted passwords now accessible to hackers or malware?

 

No, if your computer is not accessible to hackers or malware, then the deleted files are neither.


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