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Shredding data: Secure deletion of important files

The most important information about "shredding data" in brief

  • Normal erasure does not actually remove the data from the computer. A Recovery is possible with simple means.
  • To really securely delete files, they must be overwritten. This is also known as shredding.
  • You can the Securely delete data with a shredder. This is a special program. Entire hard drives can also be shredded in this way.

Why is it necessary to shred data?



Even if it sounds strange to many private users at first: If you delete files on your PC and then empty the recycle bin, they are the ones in question However, files are not permanently removed. Even technically inexperienced users can restore these "deleted" data with programs that are available easily and free of charge.

What may sound like good news for accidentally deleted private photos or documents, but it contains some issues from a data protection perspective. Because anyone who thinks that they have actually deleted their confidential documents, such as banking information or other personal data, is wrong.

This can become a problem if the device falls into the wrong hands. There is a risk of it being stolen or the user sells it believing that they have deleted everything. In order to prevent sensitive information from being tapped, there is the option of shredding the data when deleting.

Shredding data: how does it work?

Normal deletion does not actually delete the files. Only the reference to their location is removed. So that the file really disappears, you have to Location can be overwritten with other information. If you shred the data, it will be overwritten as often as you like, making it difficult or impossible to restore later.

There are basically two options when you delete data by shredding:

  • Individual data shred
  • Whole hard drive shred

You can also use the Securely delete free space. This is filled with random information so that the files previously stored there can no longer be traced. This option is useful if you have already deleted files the conventional way - you can Shred deleted files afterwards.

At Windows systems There is an additional problem: the system's recovery function leads automatic data storage by. This backup can come in handy if you've accidentally deleted something, but it's a bit counterproductive when you want to permanently remove something.

Hence, you must first delete all restore pointsbefore shredding the data. In this way, no backup copies are preserved.

Remove individual files with a data shredder

How can I now shred data on my PC? This is not very difficult and easy to use even for inexperienced users. You can download a free program to shred files.

Various Data shredder free to download with further information can be found on many relevant internet portals.
After installing the program, you can then usually select the files that you want to permanently remove. In the options you can usually also specify the level of security the deletion offers, how often the storage space is overwritten.

The shredder then deletes the data and overwrites its location with random numbers.

Shred entire hard drive with all files

Would you like to shred a hard drive with all of its data? Freeware is also available for this case. As a rule, it is theoretically possible to use the programs mentioned above to shred individual data, including entire data Securely erase hard drives. However, this is often complex and time-consuming.

Special data shredders, which are also available free of charge and which convenient deletion of entire hard drives enable. With these, the desired hard drive or partition can be selected and the required number of overwrites. The deletion process is then started with one click.

Securely delete system partitions

The important thing here is: System partitions cannot be deleted with this variant. If you should be able to delete them and shred all of the data on them, for example because you are disposing of or selling the computer, you will have to proceed differently.

You can use the PC boot with a live system and then securely erase the hard drive with an appropriate program, i.e. a file shredder. Or you can use a data shredder that boots alone.

In both cases, select the hard disk or partition to be deleted and specify the number of overwrites. With it you can shred all the data that is there. This process can take a lot of time. Count on several hours for this.

Flash / SSD special case

There are special considerations for flash memories. These storage media include, for example USB sticks and SSDs (Solid State Disks)that have recently become established alongside the usual hard drives. The peculiarity of these flash memories is that they have memory cells that have a limited number of possible write operations. Therefore, data is distributed as evenly as possible, which usually leads to it is not clear where exactly these are stored.

As a result, the above-mentioned method of shredding individual data does not work here. Instead, after each deletion all free memory will be overwrittento make sure the file cannot be restored.

However, many SSDs have native delete functionsthat are supposed to solve this problem through special mechanisms.
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Shredding data: Secure deletion of important files
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