Chances are, your PC contains entirely too much personal information about you … passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, address books, social security number, personal emails, and maybe even a few things that you wouldn’t want announced on the evening news.
And you may think that just by hitting your “delete” button, all is “lost”. Well, not exactly. “Delete” is actually just another word for “hidden”, when it comes to your PC.
Most of the information you delete can still be recovered by using special “retrieval” programs for that purpose, so it is still available to hackers, identity thieves, enemies and other spies!
If you want to completely wipe out personal information, and keep yourself safe, you need to take certain measures, like installing “data shredding” software. In the conventional sense of the word, data “shredders” don’t actually “shred” your info; instead, they are programs that are capable of rewriting your selected files multiple times with a random series of binary data, thus obliterating them beyond recognition.
Most shredders use overwrite technology that conforms to DoD 5220-22M specifications (Military-Grade) or better. DoD 5220-22M is the standard set by the U.S. Department of Defense for permanent erasure of digital information.
So, even if someone does gain access, what’s to see? Here are 4 FREE file shredders that you might want to check out.
This one is free for both personal and commercial use and works with Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 Server and Vista. You can choose between 5 different shredding algorithms, each one gradually stronger than the previous one. It also has the capability of wiping unused disk space.
Looks like another good one:
It will securely shred and destroy any sensitive files on your hard drive, including locked files and previously deleted ones. It works with Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, NT 3.x, NT 4.x, and 2000. Highlights include: different shredding modes (ex. Quick Mode), scheduler, option to shred whole drives, etc.
The one I currently use is Evidence Nuker. “Permanently Delete Everything You Want Erased”. You can choose which areas get “nuked”, and leave others alone. Options include:
- Address Bar History
- Browser Cache
- Visited Sites History
- Autocomplete Data
- Documents History
- Recycle Bin
- Run History
- Search / Find Menu history
- Windows Temp folder
- Error Checking Temp
- Click History
- Media player history
- and more …
And, as you can see below, you have 4 shredding level options to choose from:
While it is recommended that you select at least Level 2, I normally use Level 4. Even at this “slowest” level, it only takes a few seconds. Evidence Nuker is compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP.
CBL Data Shredder was profiled in PCMag and looks like a good choice too.
It’s specifically designed to meet government data erasure standards in the US, Canada, Germany and the UK. The CBL Data Shredder uses so called the multiple-pass Gutmann method, which repeatedly overwrites the data with different bit patterns until it’s completely unrecoverable.
That’s about it. And again, if you have favorite info nukers that you use, please add them in comments.