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How to permanently delete files and folders in Windows



This guide takes you step by step through the process of deleting files and / or folders permanently so that they cannot be restored, even with the most advanced tools in the world.

About deleting files in Windows

When you delete a file in Windows, you may think that data has been deleted. That’s not exactly correct. Windows does not really delete the file from the disk, it just removes all references to that file. It still remains and will remain until another file is written on top of it. Even then, it is sometimes possible for advanced data recovery software to revive it.

The solution is to not only delete the file but write on top of it several times. With random data. This is where the free and open source tool is Eraser coming in. When you delete a file with Eraser, the file is deleted and then data is written on top of that file over and over again until it cannot be recovered.

Eraser uses the Guttmann (default), Pseudorandom, and US DoD 5220-22.M methods to securely delete data. If none of this makes sense to you, do not worry about it. In short, the Guttmann method is the safest and is standard.

Use eraser to permanently delete files and folders

  1. First things first, download and install Eraser. Installation is very simple ̵
    1; you usually just click “Next” a lot of times. Select on the screen that asks you what type of installation you want Typical
  2. the installation window of the Eraser installation wizard

  3. After installing, right-click on a file or folder (or more) that you want to safely clean (maybe start with a test file or two – remember – if you delete files this way, make sure they are completely irreversible). Select Eraser from the context menu and then Delete from the submenu.
  4. right-click on 3 image files in Windows with an arrow pointing to the Eraser object in the context menu

  5. If you are using Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10, User account control prompt will be displayed. click Yes button.
  6. the Windows User Account Control warning screen

  7. When asked if you want to delete the selected items, click Yes button.
  8. a yes no option to permanently delete files in Windows 10

  9. Depending on the number and size of the files and folders you have selected, it may take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes to delete them permanently.
  10. That’s all! These files are gone and cannot be restored.

Permanently delete the contents of the Recycle Bin

You can also use Eraser to securely and permanently delete all files and folders in your Trash can. The process is almost identical to right-clicking on a group of files and folders to delete them.

  1. Right click Trash can on your Desktop and select Eraser and then Delete
  2. right-click the Windows Recycle Bin with an arrow pointing to Eraser in the context menu

  3. If you are using Windows 7, 8 or 10, User account control prompt will be displayed. click Yes button.
  4. the Windows User Account Control warning screen

  5. When asked if you want to delete the selected items, click Yes button.
  6. a yes no option to permanently delete files in Windows 10

  7. The Eraser The app will now delete all files and folders in the Recycle Bin and overwrite the space where the files used to be with random data. It can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes – it depends on how many files and folders are in the Recycle Bin and how big they are. When done, the Recycle Bin will be empty and the contents will not be recycled.
    trash can icon

If you are concerned about keeping the contents of your hard drive as private as possible, you may want to check out this guide on how to store your files securely in Windows.


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