How to permanently erase all data on a hard drive without leaving a trace?

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Craig Zacker
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If you want to permanently delete files stored on a hard drive, we recommend that you read the following information by which you will learn the existing methods.

Note that this tutorial is focused on Windows, but it is also possible to delete all files permanently on Linux. Without further ado, let's continue with this guide to permanently delete your files.

How does deleting files on hard drives work?

Hard drives are the most common storage units in our computers, thanks to them we can store a large amount of information and access it at any time. Either way, deleting files from a hard drive isn't as simple as you might think.

When we delete files from a hard drive, they are not completely deleted from our system, in fact hard drives they do not directly delete the information, but they hide them from view, and then overwrite the information with new files entering the system.

As you can imagine, this can be inconvenient if you want to protect your privacy, as with a file recovery tool after format, anyone could access your information.

If you will continue to use the disk and just want to protect your information, there is a chance to permanently delete the files from the recycle bin. In any case, if what you want is to give the disk or computer to someone else, the matter can be problematic, fortunately there are some methods by which it is possible. permanently delete data from a hard disk.

How to permanently erase all data on a hard drive without leaving a trace?

One of the most effective ways to erase information on a hard drive so that it can no longer be accessed is to use the tool Hard Wipe. A very powerful software that can permanently delete files from a hard drive, moreover it is completely free and functional.

  1. To use this method, the first thing to do is to download the Hard Wipe file deletion software, via the following Hardwipe link.
  2. Once you are inside the page you will need to locate the "Free Download" section, click on it. After that, the download will begin, which shouldn't take too long, as the file weighs less than 10MB.
  3. After the download is complete, you need to install the software. It is very likely that special permissions will be requested during installation, grant them to continue.
  4. To start using the application, the first thing to do is to start it. The application has many options of configuration, designed for different situations as we will comment below.

Types of cancellation

  • Delete files: this option allows you to permanently delete a file that you want to delete from the system.
  • Physical devices: selecting this option will delete all the contents on the hard disk, pendrive or SSD drive. For the latter, keep in mind that the process could shorten the useful life of devices with these characteristics.
  • Volumes: this will delete the information present on the logical disks, ie the partitions created on the system.
  • Free space: using this option will delete all those files that may remain in the free space of the hard disk.
  • Baskets: as the name indicates, selecting this option will delete all those files that may be hidden in the recycle bin.

Cancellation methods

The program has several erasing methods, from the classic Random Data, which overwrites system files with random files, to the powerful Gutmann.

The method Gutmann it will write 35 times to the file you want to delete or to the hard drive, which is why it is considered the best method to permanently erase the contents from a storage drive.

Gutmann mode is very efficient for permanently deleting files inside a hard drive, however the process is quite extensive. Use this method only when you want to permanently delete the information.

The other option

As you will see, it is possible to permanently delete files from a hard drive, however it is a process that can take a long time if the hard drive has sufficient capacity.

Even so, the other alternative is physically destroy the hard drive, an option worth considering in case you will no longer use the device and don't want anyone to access the information that has been stored there at some point, for everything.Otherwise, you can use the option we presented above.

In any case, if for some reason you want to save some information, you can back up a hard drive with Xcopy, a process that will work even on failed hard drives.

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