Do you have a Windows 10 workstation and you want to securely wipe all deleted files from you hard disk? Read on….
Clearly the best bastion of defense against data thieves is to encrypt your hard drive. That way if someone other than you tries to access any of your files they will be stymied by the fact that all of your data has been enciphered into gobbledygook. The computer is lost or stolen and who cares? Your secrets are safe!! But what if your hard drive can’t be encrypted? For example, if your computer lacks a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) encryption chip, it is maybe too impractical to encrypt your hard drive because you would have to safeguard the encryption key on a removable drive or in the cloud somewhere. Or perhaps this is a workstation that’s owned by your customer or client and it would be bad manners to encrypt the hard drive!
Now hold those last few thoughts. What if you have files on that unencrypted hard drive that you don’t want the customer to see? They could be something really innocuous like PDFs containing concert tickets or invoices for music lessons for the kids. Nothing illegal and certainly it is unlikely that you are breaking any rules by temporarily viewing them on the computer. But….it’s personal information and really no one’s business but your own. So you delete them, right? Click the delete button, and empty the recycle bin and they’re gone forever, right? No! They are not! When you delete any file from the computer’s hard disk, all your are removing is what amounts to a pointer telling the file system where it is on the hard disk. It doesn’t actually erase the 1’s and 0’s of the file itself. Your files are still there, and unless that space on the hard disk where the file remains are somehow completely overwritten by other files, then there they remain. How do you really really really erase that file? There are some clues in the preceding explanation. Basically you need to find some way, maybe a built-in Windows utility or a third-party programme which will overwrite and otherwise zeroize those pesky 1’s and 0’s from the hard disk.
It might surprise you, but Microsoft *does* have a built-in utility for permanently wiping that deleted file space from your hard drive. You can read this post here: How to Securely Delete Files in Windows with PowerShell and Cipher
Essentially you access the Windows PowerShell (think of it as a command prompt on steroids) on your Windows workstation and execute a command which will overwrite that deleted file space. It does *not* delete your files. Hooray!