Jan 2 2008

How to securely delete data from a Windows computer

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Do you have a super secret home-brewed beer recipe that you don’t want anyone to know about? Do you have the ultimate Paladin build worked out in World of Warcraft? Whether you are a master brewer or a master at Paladin PVP, you will probably want to delete some data on your Windows computer some time. If you are not looking to wipe your entire system drive, there is a nice little utility that lets you delete files and folders to the Department of Defense- DOD 5220.22-M standard. All that means is that it deletes the crap outta those there files.

It is called sDelete. It’s a nifty little program created by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals fame (now owned by Microsoft). This utility is run at the command prompt so roll up your sleeves, download sDelete, click Start -> Run and type “cmd”, and let’s get ready to delete some stuff!

Please note: Before we begin I should mention that sDelete isn’t just used for deleting beer recipes. You can delete unimportant files like old financial papers if you wish.

-Download sDelete.

-Unzip sDelete to any directory that you wish.

-Open the command prompt (Start -> Run and type “cmd” then hit “Enter”)

-Navigate to the directory where you unzipped sDelete
cd c:\full\path\to\sDelete\directory

-Type sDelete to get a list of parameters for the program. They are:
Usage: sdelete [-p passes] [-s] [-q] <file or directory>
sdelete [-p passes] [-z|-c] [drive letter]
-c
Zero free space (good for virtual disk optimization)
-p passes
Specifies number of overwrite passes
-s
Recurse subdirectories
-q
Don't print errors (quiet)
-z
Cleanse free space

-Got a directory in mind that you want to obliterate? Good.

-The following is an example usage of sDelete that deletes a directory along with its sub-directories.
sdelete -p 100 -s c:\full\path\to\target\directory

The above code will delete the chosen directory and it’s sub-directories by making 100 passes. Overkill? Maybe. But, you don’t want anybody to find out the secret sauce in your perfect beer is Benadryl do you?

That’s it! Short and sweet. If you want to delete a single file or directory, just leave out the “-s” part. Don’t get into any trouble with this utility now ;) . Happy file obliterating!

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