How to Permanently Delete Files Off a PC

To permanently delete files from a computer simply put them in the recycling bin and then empty them. The truth is that this only eliminates your way of accessing the file, but it still exists on your hard drive. If you want to permanently delete unwanted files, you must take a few more steps.

Secure Delete Software Programs
The easiest way to delete corrupted files or other files you don't want to be recovered is to download a "secure delete" software program. Many exist on the Internet and can be downloaded either for free or a small charge. Though each program is different, many of them work by encrypting your data by running it through a complex encoding algorithm. They then delete the file. Using this method, even if someone manages to recover the data, it will be in an unreadable code.

Defragmenting Your Hard Drive
There are other methods, however, that allow you to permanently delete the files from your computer. Once your recycling bin has been emptied, the file in question will remain on your hard drive until the space it was saved in becomes occupied by another file. If you run a disk defragmenter, your hard drive automatically rearranges its content, switching files around. If you run this a few times, there is a good chance that at some point the clusters containing the files you are attempting to permanently erase were occupied by another file. There is, however, no way to guarantee that this is the case using this method.

Duplicating Large Files
The third and possibly most time-consuming way to guarantee that a file is permanently deleted is also one of the most effective. Simply delete the files and empty your recycling bin, and then find a very large file on your computer, somewhere in the two to three gigabyte range. Copy this file over and over until your hard drive has been filled up and you cannot copy it again. Using this method you can virtually guarantee that the clusters containing the file you want to permanently delete have been filled with another file. Afterwards, just delete all the copies. This might destabilize your system, so save this method for last.

These methods may seem a little drastic, but in the cyber age you can never be too careful. Whether someone is trying to steal your identity, or is simply interested in your sensitive information, any file on your computer can be recovered if proper action isn't taken.

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