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Cleaning Harddrives


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#1 grilledcheese

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 05:36 PM

Hey guys, I've always been curious if it's possible to further delete something even after you've deleted history, files, cookies etc. I know that deleted stuff can be pulled back up by someone who knows what they're doing. I really don't have anything I'm concerned about sharing, but I'm curious if it's actually possible to clean your harddrive to the point where deleted stuff is actually deleted. Thanks!

Edited by grilledcheese, 05 August 2006 - 05:55 PM.


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#2 jgweed

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 05:55 PM

Deleting files on your hard drive is analogous to tearing out the table of contents of a book; the pointers are gone, but the chapters remain. There are several good free applications that will overwrite the files with random characters; this repeated over writing makes them useless and unreadable.
One such application is Eraser:

http://www.tolvanen.com/eraser/

I habitually use this to erase, rather than delete files, both individually as well as from the recycle bin.

Regards,
John
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.

#3 grilledcheese

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 06:02 PM

Thanks! Would that program be able to help with anything I've deleted in the past?

#4 jgweed

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:01 PM

If you have deleted something prior to installing it, then one of several things could be the case:
1. Windows has already filled what it sees as unused space with new files. In this case the old files were over written. Depending on chance and how long ago the original file was deleted, the space on the hard drive could have been over written several times.
2. If the deletion was more recent, the space exists as unused. In this case, Eraser has the optional ability to over write ALL unused space on your computer. Depending on the size, however, of your hard drive, and the number of times you elect to have it over write, this could take a rather long time.
If you are not concerned with sensitive data, then I would not recommend the option in point 2, since much of the very old data has by now probably been over written.
Regards,
John
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.

#5 grilledcheese

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:12 PM

Sorry to need the walk through, but how exactly do I use this thing? I have it opened and selected to on demand. What do I need to do to ensure as much as possible is over-written?

#6 jgweed

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:43 PM

You will need to first set up the drive you want Eraser to overwrite, and then to choose the way it will do it.


Establish a task
Click on File.
Choose New Task.
You will see a drop down labelled Task Properties with a Data tab.
Check "Unused space on drive" and choose the drive to be overwritten.
You will see your choice entered into the On Demand task list. Check to make sure you are doing the correct drive.

Choose the Method
Next, click on Edit, then on preferences, then on Erasing. You can choose different methods for a simple erase of current files and for unused space overwriting. I generally use the option of 3 passes for current files and a single pass for unused disk space (especially since I use Eraser instead of deletion).
You are given the choice about how Eraser will overwrite in both cases, from the Gutman algorithm (35 passes) to a simple pseudorandom single overwrite. Since you do not have sensitive data on your computer, you can choose the single pass for speed for the unused space, and something more powerful for your on-going use. Click on OK.

Run the task
When you have chosen the options, go to the On Demand task list, right click on the line for the desired task in the list and choose Run. WARNING! Double check everything; Eraser is a powerful application and its erasing cannot be reversed or undone.

Hope this helps,
John

Edited by jgweed, 05 August 2006 - 07:52 PM.

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#7 grilledcheese

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:53 PM

One question: it allows me to select either c drive or local hard drives ... which one should I go with? Or should I go through it with both? I'm confused as to how this whole thing fits together and works, unfortunately. Thanks a lot!

Edited by grilledcheese, 05 August 2006 - 07:54 PM.


#8 buddy215

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:56 PM

Hey JGWeed, I would like to ask how long it would take to do one pass on Sixty Gigabytes.
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

#9 jgweed

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:58 PM

Choose C: if that is the designation of your hard drive, or the partition of which you wish to overwrite the "free" space.
Cheers,
John
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#10 grilledcheese

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 08:00 PM

Thanks a lot!

Take care,
Jeremy




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