First the bad news: even if you have "deleted" files containing sensitive data from your PC using your Windows program, some of the data will linger for a while (months or even years), remaining vulnerable to theft or invasion. This means thieves could still get to your documents, spreadsheets, and emails after you’ve dumped them into the computer’s trash bin. How can this be? When you erase files from your hard drive, Windows eliminates the "pointer" to that data but leaves the data on the drive to be overwritten over time as you save other files. It doesn’t help your peace of mind to know that it takes a long time to overwrite "deleted" file data because Windows fragments the "erased" file, and stores bits and pieces randomly all over the hard drive. Now, you can see how it is all too possible for PC specialists to work their magic, using various specialized "un-erase" programs to locate most - if not all - of your "deleted" data.
However, if you want to be able to completely erase sensitive personal or business data - particularly if you plan to trade in or recycle your PCs - a simple solution is at hand. New software is now available that can truly erase date and "wipe" a hard drive clean in a short time. O&O SafeErase from O&O Software (www.oo-software.com
) provides a high level of erasure by overwriting the fragmented "deleted" file with SafeErase’s own random data. The program allows you to select the level of overwriting you want (from a one-time sweep (low security) to a series of some 35 sweeps (the highest level of security). If you select the highest security sweep level, it will be just about impossible for any professional to unerase product and restore the data you have deleted from your PC’s drives.
SafeErase is easy to use but, like many software programs, can be a little confusing to install. There is an email link to customer support - O&O is in Germany - but no toll-free number. Once you have installed it, the program adds the commands "Securely Empty Recycle Bin" to the Recycle Bin, and "Securely Erase" to the Windows Menu. Once you access either of these options, SafeErase finds each file’s fragments and starts to overwrite them. The erasure is fairly quick - the time required increases in direct proportion to file size. You can continue to work on your PC while the program runs in the background.
SafeErase can also be used when you shift files from one folder to another, and it can also wipe unused disk space clean if you have "erased" files that have not yet been overwritten. There is also a "TotalErase" option that will completely wipe your hard drive and system partition.
If you are planning to trade in your PCs or pass them on to a charitable organization, SafeErase and TotalErase let you do so without exposing yourself - or your business - to potential data theft. If permanent deletion is an option you want, check out this product. O&O SafeErase is a boon for those who deal with sensitive information, and for business owners who are concerned about the possible vulnerability of proprietary data. This program is highly effective. Anyone who uses SafeErase understands that when the data is gone, it’s gone for good.