Deleting saved data from phones, tablets, laptops, computers and other devices that you no longer need, can be done in several ways. We often just need to get rid of stored information that we would prefer not to share, or consider private, but not useful presently. It is also important to periodically erase passwords, credit card, and bank statement information on all media storage devices.
It’s necessary to completely wipe out any personal data before selling off, or disposing of your old gadget to prevent malicious people from using stored data in the future or to avoid access by unintended persons for bad use or anybody else for that matter. Computer or phone data can be saved on permanent hard drives or additional external hard drives/ memory cards, including laptops, game consoles, mobile phones, tablets, printers, and removable memory in digital cameras.
The Deletion Process
Erasing sensitive files forever from a computer, never to be recovered beyond data recovery tools is not that complex. Follow the steps explained below to ensure that your unwanted files are permanently obliterated. On hitting the deletion button on your device/computer, the operating system just marks the occupied space as free to attach new files. If new data does not replace the old deleted stuff, the previously erased data can still be easily recovered.
Third-party erasing application tools come in handy to methodically wipe out all saved files including random data in your devices. Once deleted using these erasing apps, that data can never be retrieved. It completely vanishes, leaving you with neat gadgets for reuse or selling. Mobile Solid State Drive cards (SSD card), and flash disk memory cards work differently on phones and computers because installed applications work differently regarding data storage. Deleted files stored on SSD cards are irrecoverable once removed. Furthermore, it is important to encrypt your mobile storage drives to protect your phone data, including the wiped files.
Deleting Files Permanently on Windows
Erasing files permanently from your Windows software is quite easy. The process ensures that data are not temporarily stored in the recycle bin for later re-use. All you need is to press Shift + Delete button simultaneously in the file Explorer.
Erasing Computer Hard Drive Files
Wiping out applications, pictures, files and folders from the recycle bin is a waste of time. The temporary files are retrievable with particular data recovery tools readily available in tech stores. Reformatting your hard disk won’t do the trick either. That is just the easy way out for ethical hackers or smart tech savvy geeks to access hidden files. They can quickly retrieve lost/hidden/deleted data from your computer. So, what’s the solution? Read on.
In 2003, two Computer Science students from MIT College conducted research on recycled hard drives. They bought over 100 used hard disks from different sources online and started working on them. Shockingly, 12 drives had completely wiped out data, 88 of the hard drives had been refurbished, and the rest were obsolete, but the students recovered various data from the last batch; over 4500 credit card numbers, personal financial and medical records including personal email data.
New Apps used for Deleting unwanted Files
Technology has since evolved, and we can now store private data safely using a disk cleaning program that is approved by the governments’ media sanitation guidelines. The program overwrites your full hard drive with data severally; to ensure that deleted data can never be retrieved. The process of removing is long, takes hours to wipe out the hard disk wholly.
Darik’s Boot and Nuke is a popular free application that meets the government media sanitation standards. The software creates boot space that cleans out the entire hard drive. This application is unique; It also swipes floppy disks (oh yes) CDs, DVDs, and USB drives.
Eraser is an effective application tool that has been widely used on Windows. To delete unwanted files, open the Applications folder, and place the app’s widget towards a targeted file. The eraser will automatically overwrite it with unsystematic data. Other third party tools like ShreditX are available to shred unwanted files regularly. You may also use scheduler tools to frequently clean sections of your hard drive.
Blank and Secure is a similar, lightweight, portable tool that does the deleting job quite well. It also runs from a USB to remove unwanted saved data from your computer or mobile phone. Once installed, drag and drop the unwanted files you want to trash into a blank window. You can choose to set a few basic options before deleting. Note that the app shuts down your PC automatically afterward if it’s going to be a long task.
CCleaner is a durable cleaning tool that includes a disk wiper kit built into it. (Free trial available). The App is suitable for wiping out the entire free disk space. It is also used to erase confidential data on the modern SSD Cards. It is a preferred method of securely erasing sensitive data.
Encrypting hard drive data is also another way to secure your files using apps like BitLocker available in newer versions of Windows 10. Third-party versions such as VeraCrypt are also available and efficient just as much.
Microsoft previously had software that couldn’t erase stored data quickly. The potential security risk compelled them to launch a free data eraser known as SDelete. It is a complicated tool to use but very efficient. To use the free SDelete Tool:
- Download and UNZIP file containing the app
- Click on WINDOWS > + R
- Type the letters “cmd” and hit ENTER to open the command prompt
- Then move the SDelete.exe file to a new folder in file > C:\User\username
From there, you can prompt the app by typing up the file location to delete unwanted data, and the cleaning process will commence. Other data erasing file shredders available in the market can be bought to delete unwanted files from a hard drive securely. This way, you have all the options needed to discard old sensitive data from all your critical devices.
Deleting Data on MacOS
MacOS, just like Windows, has a shortcut on the keyboard to dump unwanted files in the trash bin to the digital dumpsite yard: To obliterate data, click Cmd+ Option +Delete. Alternatively, you can select the files you want to delete and hold the Option key while accessing the “File” menu from the Finder and “Delete immediately” will appear.
The Mac Application Store has erasing tools for external data, such as SSD card file locations. These may not be as effective to use on external storage sources as an internal PC mass storage spaces. But apps such as FileShredder and ShreditX come in handy on external file removal disk spaces.
Options for Secure File Erasing
Physical Destruction of Storage Devices
Physical destruction of all media files on your devices destroys all records permanently. Once shredded, data will no longer be recoverable, except, perhaps, with the help of sophisticated equipment beyond the ordinary known applications.
Alternatively, unwanted files from a device may be removed and destroyed separately to avoid damaging the holding device. You can delete the files without extra equipment. A good example of detachable media is CDs and DVDs. You may replace the destroyed media with new data or save up the free data storage for future use. On the flip side, killing warranted media from its source may infringe on the warranty rights.
Physical destruction of unwanted media storage devices such as CD’s and DVD’s fragment particles may raise environmental and safety concerns. Consult on the best way to destroy such devices with dangerous consequences such as crushing old, depleted and unusable mobile phones, batteries, small printing machines, cameras, Memory Cards and CDs should be done carefully.
Secure Software Deletion
Software is often used to overwrite data. Removing the media may invalidate the warranty. It can also be recycled once overwriting is concluded. Large hard drives take longer periods to overwrite multiple data. This method may not be sustainable for single use storage devices such as CD’s since the stored files may be formatted to remain permanent on the storage device.
Restore Factory Settings
Many mobile phones have a simple erasing function known as Restore Factory Settings’ option. Once this action is completed, all media, files, and any other installed applications become obliterated from the beginning of time. This strict action cannot be undone on your phone. The Restoration makes your phone as good as you bought it when it was new. All internal memory is erased.
Organizations securely delete data from devices and storage file settings. Phone specialists flash out or overwrite data on behalf of their clients upon request. A specialist can repair damaged devices from harmful viruses and restore your phone to a usable state once more. Some phones do not go back to their original speed state, forcing you to either recycle usable storage space or sell the device altogether. Check the removal processes to ensure that data is securely deleted. If possible, perform a secure repeat data erasing method or use the provided restore to factory settings before trusting a specialist with your device.
Formatting unwanted media recycles data file systems and structures. A full format scan may be performed concurrently with data overwriting to ensure that data can no longer be recovered. High-level formatting does not wipe out data in its entirety. All it does is reset/delete the folder system where files were previously stored. Low-level formatting; the new erasing system, reinitialises, and resets disk information to erase stored data from the system.
How to Delete Cloud Data Securely
Securely deleting cloud data requires individual app permissions from your app/computer/phone cloud provider. Cloud data or alternative storage service cannot be overwritten on running software. Contact the storage providers for further assistance on a secure removal of unwanted evidence.
Overwriting/Erasing Software Tools
Software products which securely delete unwanted or obsolete files and data are available from IT firms. There is also readily available software product which is easily downloadable from the web. It is, however, paramount to consider downloading software tools from reliable sites, as some may have spyware on them and instead steal vital data from your computers. Always download original software.
If you are confident to trust third party users and applications to do the erasing work for you, make sure it is done from a trustworthy source to avoid data theft or infringement of privacy on your treasured data. If you prefer someone else performing the data deletion, get assistance from a professional who has experience in this area.
Cleaning up Smart Phones and Tablets
Portable computer devices store practically everything we wish or own. Our entire lives and vital documents are all packed up in these devices. Smartphones contain valuable stuff such as contacts, text messages, emails, phone call records and other important social media information. This scenario makes people want to secure their phones in every possible way, even besides having secure passwords.
Smartphone’s also come with reliable ways of data storage systems and applications. Privacy of file access is also enhanced, thus, making it less risky to lose sensitive data. In any case, deleting unwanted individual data shouldn’t be a daunting task. Simply follow the instructions laid out in the settings section of your phone to remove unwanted applications or file storage spaces.
Modern applications such as Whatsapp have upgraded their settings to suit users on how they wish to store or discard data. Samsung Phones also have new methods of erasing data from applications such as the messaging app where you can delete messages from the beginning of time with a single touch of a button.
Multiple storage spaces such as Facebook and Google applications take security very seriously. This makes it easy for users to permanently and securely erase data any time using the settings menu available on the software systems.
Discarding hardware memory from your computer or mobile handset requires considerable attention to avoid losing vital data or leaving out small bits of confidential information on incomplete jobs. To ensure a safe, secure wiping of data, use the right tools and information as stipulated above. A complete reset on your phone to wipe out data and restore it to its factory settings is enough to secure your device especially when you run out of options.