How to Delete/Erase Sensitive Files Permanently in Windows 10

If you want to protect your data privacy, then just moving your sensitive files to the recycle bin is not enough. Here is how you can permanently delete your data.

Sensitive data on hard drives can be susceptible to a leak. So, before you upgrade your old laptop to a new one, you should completely clean it out.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that deleting everything from the hard drive is enough. But if you haven’t thoroughly erased your data, anyone can recover it using the software. Data recovery from old hard drives might be the biggest reason for sensitive data getting into the wrong hands.

If you have a good Cox customer service number that is also secure, you might not worry about hackers getting into your system. But if you are on a public network, your data is much more at risk.

So, how do you keep it safe? First off, it can be a good idea to store your files on encrypted hard drives. But when the hard drive is no longer in use, you should delete your files permanently. Shift + Delete might be what most people do, but it isn’t safe.

Where Do Deleted Files Go in Windows PC

When Windows deletes files from your computer, they don’t disappear in thin air. Windows simply moves them to certain areas on the hard drive. So even though they are apparently gone, there is software that can easily recover them. Even when you press Shift + Delete or empty the Recycle Bin, your data isn’t completely gone.

If the areas on your hard drive with the deleted files are overwritten with new files, your files might be hard to recover. However, there are no guarantees. Some new data recovery software versions can reconstruct over-written files as well. So, it is imperative that you know how to delete your files permanently.

How to Delete Files Permanently from Windows 10

So, given the knowledge written above, you need to take further steps than emptying your Recycle Bin. If you don’t want hackers to recover sensitive files from your hard drive, here are some things you can do.

1. Configure Recycle Bin

When you delete a file, it moves to the Recycle Bin by default. So, you’ll have to reconfigure the Recycle Bin settings to change that. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Right-click on the Recycle Bin.
  • Click on Properties.
  • Choose the drive you want to clean up.
  • Mark the option ‘Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.’
  • Click on Apply.
  • Click on Ok.

By changing this setting, your files will not move to the Recycle Bin. You can change the settings any time you like. This might not be the safest option, but it reduces a significant step for safeguarding deleted data. If the files don’t go to the Recycle Bin, you won’t have to remember emptying it.

2. Delete Files via Cipher

Cipher is the built-in file deletion tool in Windows. It could be one of the best ways to delete files without a recovery option. Although, configuring Cipher can be a bit challenging as the tool is not graphical. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Go to the Start menu.
  • Launch PowerShell.
  • Input this command: ‘cipher /w:C:

This command will overwrite all the files in the C drive of your computer. So, you can replace the letter C with E, F, or D depending upon whichever drive you to want to erase. The Cipher command doesn’t touch the existing files on the drive. However, it will erase all the pre-deleted files permanently.

3. Delete Files with Eraser

Eraser is also a powerful tool to delete files on Windows. The tool can locate the deleted files on the portions of your hard drive. Then, it will delete them without an option for recovery. So, make sure there are no files you need before you delete them all.

  • Install Eraser on your computer.
  • Launch Windows Explorer.
  • Navigate to the file you want to delete.
  • Right-click on the file.
  • Click on Eraser -> Erase.
  • Click ‘Yes’ on the pop-up dialogue box.

Eraser will delete your files for you and make it almost impossible to recover them. You can do the same using the Eraser interface as well. Launch the software and then choose the files you wish to delete forever.

4. Double-Checking File Deletion

If you want to be extra careful, there are ways to confirm permanent file deletion. For this purpose, you can download any data recovery software. If you have removed the data successfully, the software will fail to recover it.

It might be an unnecessary step, but it can put your mind at ease. Moreover, many data recovery software is free so, it won’t cost you any money.

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