When someone deletes files on their PC, Windows users knew it wasn’t really gone and it can be recovered. The deleted files are still there on your hard drive until they’re overwritten with a new data.
Using applications such as CCleaner or Eraser can truly wipe the data and give you free space to use. However, there is a built-in feature of Windows known as Cipher, it can overwrite deleted files and in the process can free up extra disk space.
Take Command on Windows
Using Cipher, you need to go to the command prompt to activate it. Although, the command line is not a common place computer users stay-on, Cipher has its safe feature. Thus, it’s always a good idea to back up your files before you try this.
Another thing about the command prompt, you need to enter/type the command correctly to prevent unwanted processes.
In addition, Cipher is more than a tool to overwrite deleted data, another use of this Windows built-in tool is for encrypting data.
Wipe-out the Deleted Files
For Windows 8.1, you need to go to the command prompt:
- Click the Windows key and + S, then type on the search box “command prompt”.
For Windows 7
- Click the Start, then go to Run and type into the box “ cmd”, then click the Enter key.
For the standard Windows installation, you can type or copy/paste this command:
This command means, Windows will open the Cipher program.
The “/w”, is a switch that says to remove any data from the uncommitted disk space.
While the “c” will tell Window to process the action on C:\ drive.
In case your data is on a different drive, like the partition named as D:\, all you need to do is alter the letter of the drive.
When the procedure begins, waiting is all you can do and let Windows do its cleaning. It is advisable to do this during weekends, when you have nothing to do with your computer. The Cipher will clean your drive and free some extra disk space.
If you think Cipher is not for you, then there is another Windows Tool you can use, the Eraser.
Eraser is an open source, free safe deletion tool for Windows. This can be used easily and quickly on target files for safe deletion. You can also use eraser to apply periodic safe deletion policies.
Features of Eraser
- Compatible with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2), Windows Server 2008, Windows XP (with Service Pack 3), Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
- You can use any drive for as long as it works with Windows.
- It has a safe drive erasure technique which is ready-made software.
- It can handle erasure of folders, files and previously deleted duplicated copies.
- It can schedule deletion of files.
Steps How to use the Eraser in Windows Explorer
Generally, people would use Eraser via My Computer Windows Explorer programs, instead of going through the Eraser program itself.
- To permanently a file, open the folder containing it.
- Drag the mouse pointer on this file and right-click. A pop-up menu will appear, Erase and Eraser Secure Move
Choose the Erase option, this will permanently delete the file.
- Now, choose the Erase item from the list menu. Notice the Easing dialog box will pop-up, confirming the task you need to perform.
- Click the Yes button, if the file appeared the dialog box is the file you need to permanently delete.
Be Cautioned: The file deleted will be permanent and can’t be retrieved, hence, you need to make sure that the file/s you want to delete is/are correct.
- Moving a file/s from one location to a different on safely (from the USB stick going to your computer), choose Eraser Secure Move.
After choosing this option, expect to answer the warning prompt as mention above to continue.
Wiping Unused Disk Space using Eraser
- Go and click Start button, proceed to Program, and then go to Eraser, next select Eraser.
Advice: You can do the wiping task via schedule (with a specific time) or on-demand. This procedure may take time (about 2 to 5 hours) and may slow down your computer.
On-Demand Task using Eraser
- Click the icon next to the Eraser (On-Demand).
- Choose File and then New Task.
- Select the Unused space on drive option, this will clear free space on (like, Local Disk (C:))
- Next, click the OK button to create, and then process the task displayed in the Eraser user interface.
- Then, drag the mouse pointer on the task, and right-click it to activate the pop-up menu.
- Choose Run button to display the Eraser pop-up dialog box.
- Click the Yes button, then a status window will appear while processing the request.
Scheduler Feature of Eraser
- Click icon in the main screen of Eraser menu.
- Choose File, then New Task. This will display a window.
- Set up this option as said in the On-Demand Task (discussed above).
- Click the Schedule Tab, this will display the associated pane along with the two settings.
- Choose the schedule you want on every drop-down list.
- When done, click the OK button.
Take Note: To be able to run the scheduled task, the computer must always be switched on.
Remove a Task, using Eraser
Whether you run on-demand or scheduled task, the next thing to do is remove it from the task list.
- Click the icon on the Eraser Menu [On-Demand].
- Choose the task you need to remove and right-click it.
- This action will display the pop-up menu, then choose the Delete item (this will remove the task on the list, or you may click icon just under the Eraser menu bar).
Removing the Scheduled Task is identical to this process.
Erase the Window Recyle Bin
- On the Recycle Bin Icon, you can right-click it anywhere. This will activate the pop-up of Eraser menu.
- Choose the right item listed in the pop-up menu to start erasing your Recycle Bin.