Jump to content


 


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.


Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.

Photo

WIPING FREE SPACE ON HARD DISK


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 rittenhouse

rittenhouse

  • Members
  • 55 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:08:47 AM

Posted 02 July 2017 - 08:46 PM

I have seen many programs that can be used to wipe free space on a windows operating system  computer's hard drive. What exactly will it do? Doesn't Windows keep or maintain back up files in that "free space" realm? Will I be destroying any back up copies that are stored there?Will that procedure also destroy any lost files that I may want to recover in the future? or is it a blessing in disguise as it may actually serve as a file shredder for materials that I do not want recovered by others? Any suggestions for which one to use? Mcafee :idea:  had one, also SPYBOT :thumbup2: 



BC AdBot (Login to Remove)

 


#2 Platypus

Platypus

  • Global Moderator
  • 15,775 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Australia
  • Local time:11:47 PM

Posted 02 July 2017 - 09:03 PM

Free space on a drive is the user area that is currently marked as available for storing files. Some or all of that space will contain the remnants of previous files that were stored in those locations. So wiping the free space will prevent file recovery software from recovering any of that previous content. It would stop someone from using such software to recover something you don't want them to get, but it will also stop you from recovering something you later realize you do want.

It probably isn't going to matter much which utility you use, as you comment, numerous utilities have the capacity, I'd probably think of CCleaner. It's not necessary to do any more than a single overwrite, unless you're worried criminal syndicates or government agencies are going to go after your used data... :)
Top 5 things that never get done:

1.

#3 jcgriff2

jcgriff2

  • BSOD Kernel Dump Expert
  • 1,109 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey Shore
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 02 July 2017 - 09:28 PM

Personally, I don't think "wiping free space" is needed at all.

 

As Platypus said, free space is simply unallocated space that is marked as available for future files to occupy.

 

It makes no difference whatsoever whether the free space contains any data or not.

 

Regards. . .

 

jcgriff2


Microsoft MVP 2009-2015
Microsoft Windows Insider MVP 2018 - Present

#4 rittenhouse

rittenhouse
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 55 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:08:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 12:46 PM

​Well, wouldn't you know that the external hard drive that I used to store files has stopped working,  just yesterday after posting my question (wouldn't you know it )  so I will not be wiping any free space  on my main computer just in case i can recover files that I can not retrieve my my Seagate. Things just keep gong from worse to worse !



#5 jwoods301

jwoods301

  • Members
  • 1,489 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:04:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:17 PM

Download and run SeaTools on the disk (not limited to Seagate disk drives).

 

http://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/seatools-win-master/



#6 britechguy

britechguy

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt


  • Moderator
  • 9,844 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Staunton, VA
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:27 PM

As an aside, and to restate a general principle:   having a single copy of a file, regardless of the location of said single copy, means you have no backup.

 

One should not, if something is truly valuable, keep only a single copy of it whether on an internal disc drive, thumb/jump drives, an SD card (of any specific SD format), etc.

 

From the sounds of the original poster's last message he or she has files on their external drive that are not on the internal hard drive of their computer (or the internal storage of some other device) as well.  That is just asking for trouble if you have a failure of your backup drive itself.

 

For "the world would end if I lost access to this data" type information a minimum of three copies should exist:  the original, one on-site backup, and one off-site backup as the minimally safe "cover all your bases" setup.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

       ~ Mark Twain

 

 

 

              

 


#7 jwoods301

jwoods301

  • Members
  • 1,489 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:04:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:29 PM

AKA...The Backup Rule of Three -

 

https://www.hanselman.com/blog/TheComputerBackupRuleOfThree.aspx



#8 JohnC_21

JohnC_21

  • Members
  • 24,827 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:43 PM

CCleaner easily wipes free space. It's more of a privacy issue. When you delete a file, it's not really deleted. Any file recovery program has a good chance of recovering the file deleted especially if the recovery was done immediately after deletion. Another excellent program is Eraser. So, if you want a file or files gone permanently then wipe free space using the DOD 7 pass wipe. I would not recommend doing this on a SSD drive.

 

https://www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner/using-ccleaner/wiping-free-disk-space



#9 britechguy

britechguy

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt


  • Moderator
  • 9,844 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Staunton, VA
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:44 PM

 

And I don't have anything that falls into the "the world would end if I lost access to this data" category, so I follow the "Backup Rule of Two."   The probability of the hard drive on my machine and my backup drive going down simultaneously, barring a natural disaster, fire, or similar, is so infinitesimally small as to be zero.  Were my home to be subject to a devastating fire or natural disaster my data loss would not be the first concern, not by far.

 

That being said, having had two different hard drives fail over the course of decades during my cavalier "Oh, I don't need a backup!!" days, if my backup drive fails it will be replaced at the earliest possible convenience and backups run as quickly as possible thereafter.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

       ~ Mark Twain

 

 

 

              

 


#10 britechguy

britechguy

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt


  • Moderator
  • 9,844 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Staunton, VA
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:49 PM

. . .wipes free space. It's more of a privacy issue. When you delete a file, it's not really deleted. Any file recovery program has a good chance of recovering the file deleted especially if the recovery was done immediately after deletion. 

 

Not that I don't agree with everything you've said, but this only becomes an issue if you lose physical possession of your computer or have allowed unauthorized physical access to it.    How many of us actually do that?

 

It's critical, if you are concerned about privacy, to do a free space wipe when you are giving away a computer after you have deleted all of your files.  But so long as you own your computer, have control over it, and practice "safe computing practices" there is really little to no need to do free space wipes on any routine basis.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

       ~ Mark Twain

 

 

 

              

 


#11 JohnC_21

JohnC_21

  • Members
  • 24,827 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:54 PM

It's critical, if you are concerned about privacy, to do a free space wipe when you are giving away a computer after you have deleted all of your files.  But so long as you own your computer, have control over it, and practice "safe computing practices" there is really little to no need to do free space wipes on any routine basis.

 

+1 on that.

 

Iv'e been very lucky. In all my years I have not had one drive failure. That goes back to a 1GB JTS drive that still runs well along with a 2GB Maxtor. Just a matter of principle but I would never get rid of those two drives. 



#12 britechguy

britechguy

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt


  • Moderator
  • 9,844 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Staunton, VA
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:05 PM

It's interesting, but I find some of what the author of that "Backup Rule of Three" article says to be well, not exactly wrong, but gross overkill.

 

For example:  

  • Backing up to a hard drive that is 6 inches away from your computer is #notabackup

or 

  • The photos that are still in your camera memory are #notabackup

To which my response is, "Uh, yes, it is."  (and the yes to the second presumes you've downloaded them to your computer.  Anything that exists in single copy is not backed up.)

 

I also can't imagine why I'd back up my Gmail account, for instance.   If Google isn't following industry standard backup practices themselves, which is well-nigh impossible, they've got at least three back-ups of virtually everything in their possession and can and would recover it to new servers tout de suite.  I trust them, and similar entities that are running out of professionally managed data centers, to have a far better backup protocol than I could ever hope to have.   And if Google or similar cannot get back online quickly, what has happened is likely far more serious and devastating than one might imagine as a worst case scenario.   Outfits like Google are routinely prepared to get themselves back online very, very rapidly in the event of an outage that's the result of even the loss of a whole data center.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

       ~ Mark Twain

 

 

 

              

 


#13 jwoods301

jwoods301

  • Members
  • 1,489 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:04:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:17 PM

One person's overkill is another person's comfort zone.

 

It's do whatever works best in your given situation.



#14 britechguy

britechguy

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt


  • Moderator
  • 9,844 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Staunton, VA
  • Local time:07:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 05:41 PM

One person's overkill is another person's comfort zone.

 

It's do whatever works best in your given situation.

 

I don't disagree with what you've said.

 

That being said people are often trying to develop their personal comfort zone based on reading what authorities or authority figures say or recommend.  I find those who try to prepare for the remotely possible, rather than the relatively probable, and particularly in reference to your average home user, sow a lot of unnecessary anxiety and doubt.

 

Thus, my opinion is that Scott Hanselman's opinion is overkill and sowing a lot of unnecessary anxiety in specific respects.  Other's mileage may vary.   In the end you have to do what you feel comfortable with, but you also need to do an accurate risk assessment to determine what you're comfortable with and why.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

       ~ Mark Twain

 

 

 

              

 


#15 rittenhouse

rittenhouse
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 55 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:08:47 AM

Posted 03 July 2017 - 06:18 PM

Fortunately miracles happen and the Seagate (plug and play) drive has started powering up again and I can see the files, but it really doesn't matter because as I said and I'm no fatalist , you just can't  win. No matter how many copies you keep somewhere  they all keep  degrading from dvd  data disks to external hard drive. nothing is dependable.i guess that is why they refer to this site as, "That Bleeping computer"!  I plan to purchase another 4tb hard drive and transfer files to that, but of course somehow those files which might be corrupted and will self destruct themselves. will go the way of all digital formats.  The only way to revive a file is to open it .work with it; then save a copy. i  have tens of thousands of files and images that must be archived. Even cloud storage companies are going out of business. Does anyone  know of a mass file "freshener" which can restore degrading files to their original content?






1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users