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File-Shredder.jpg 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.

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File Shredder

File Shredder

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.

Zilla Nuker

Looks like another good one:

Zilla-Data-Nuker

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.

Evidence Nuker

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
  • Cookies
  • Autocomplete Data
  • Documents History
  • Recycle Bin
  • Run History
  • Search / Find Menu history
  • Windows Temp folder
  • Error Checking Temp
  • Click History
  • Clipboard
  • Media player history
  • and more …

And, as you can see below, you have 4 shredding level options to choose from:

Shredding-modes.png

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

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.

  1. Syahid A.
    January 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    I use Eraser. Love the function when you can right click on a file and just click Erase for quick "sensitive files" erasing. (saves me from some embarassing moments too)

  2. jt
    January 9, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Data shredder actually is a little know product but a very good one. I particularly like the option to customize random wipe passes. Runs from a floppy or a cd. Puts my old pentium to good use when I need to wipe an old drive.
    JT (technologyinfo)

  3. Tina
    January 5, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Great post nevertheless Linda. So many people are not aware of the fact, that Windows doesn't delete files but merely deletes the "link" to them with the files still being there until overwritten. At (blonde) times, this can come in quite handy, though. ;)

  4. Linda Martin-Peoples
    January 5, 2008 at 6:45 am

    Uh-oh...Simon and Aibek...you have caught me red-handed...(and red-faced, too!)
    My favorite "family Geek" installed Evidence Nuker on my computer a couple years ago. He didn't charge me for it, and I can't imagine him "gifting me" with what looks like a $29.95 shareware download now! (Speaking of which, I find the way the free scan is currently touted as a free download to be a little misleading...sure you can download it and scan your computer, but apparently if you want to actually USE IT, you have to pay!) Sorry about that everyone!

    To make up for my regrettable faux pas, I have done a little extra research for you over at PCWorld.com. If you will follow this link, (copy and paste if necessary) http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,22393-order,2-page,4-c,harddisk/description.html
    you will find the most wonderful list of "file-everything" Free Downloads: deleters, cleaners, restorers, duplicate finders, space available and wasted space reports, etc., including Super Delete, Active@Kill Disk Hard Drive, Eraser and PC De-Crapifier. The Free downloads start about half-way down on Page 4 and go all the way thru Page 9, so you have plenty of useful free downloads to choose from!
    Enjoy!
    And again, please forgive the oversight;
    I will be extra-careful from now on!
    ~Linda~

  5. simon
    January 4, 2008 at 11:21 am

    EvidenceNuker is very good but NOT free :

    "To purchase a registration key click the Get Registration Key button to open the product order form. "...

    • Aibek
      January 4, 2008 at 8:21 pm

      It seems you're right.
      Let's see what Linda has to say. :-)

  6. Peter
    January 3, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    And if you want to wipe the entire drive use Dariks Boot and Nuke. http://dban.sourceforge.net/

  7. Shane
    January 3, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    As long as you are using a journaling file system, you can never totally erase your files. Journaling file systems such as NTFS, ReiserFS, and Ext3 keep metadata of everything on your hard drive in case of a system crash or power failure.

    The only way to truly be confident that your data cannot be recovered is to use an encrypted file system, use a non-journaling file system such as FAT32, or just drop your hard drive into a vat of lava. :)

    • Mackenzie
      June 2, 2008 at 8:39 pm

      I believe the ext3 filesystem attribute to securely delete on all deletes is +s. The journal isn't permanent anyway. It's contantly overwritten. Last transaction is all it contains.

  8. tyronebcookin
    January 3, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Erasure and Erasure portable. http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/download.php

  9. CG
    January 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Out of curiosity, what good are shredders if you've defragged your hard drive, resulting in files being moved around? Aren't the traces still there where they used to be? I understand that a novice perhaps couldn't find a file easily that is wiped/shredded after a defrag, but the experts should be able to, shouldn't they?

    • Aibek
      January 3, 2008 at 1:38 pm

      Agree, some experts may get files back, however some shredders make it extremely difficult. For instance, CBL shredder is offered by the established data recovery company so these guys definitely know a great deal about data recovery techniques.

  10. Mark O'Neill
    January 3, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I prefer Eraser which I covered in a previous Make Use Of article - http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-securely-retrieve-and-delete-pc-files/

    You can add Eraser to your Windows Explorer right-click menu.

  11. Jeff
    January 3, 2008 at 12:18 am

    What about Eraser?

    http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/

    • user
      February 5, 2008 at 1:08 pm

      Yaeh,what about Erase. It's great!

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