August 16, 2012

Tip 50: Wipe your **** after you’re done

I know what you were thinking but the **** stands for data, or bits. I remember using some old Norton Utilities to wipe deleted files from hard drives. I’m not sure why I did it, as I’m sure the data I had deleted was not important to anyone to want to take the time to try and recover, but I had a good feeling that I knew the data was gone.

This tip is for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. When you delete files in Windows they do not really get removed fully from the drive by default. Even if you do the dreaded Shift-Delete, which permanently deletes the file, the data of the file can hang out on your drive for a long time. The file is deleted by removing the file table entry from the file system. Look at my USB flash drive with no data on it, I deleted or moved every file off.


But if you use a hex editor to view the disk, you can see leftover data on the drive.

To wipe the data, you can buy a utility or you can use the built in command Cipher.exe to wipe the data. The Cipher command
can wipe a file, folder or whole drive. I ran Cipher.exe /w:h: to wipe the whole H: drive.

Now the disk shows the old data was overwritten with new data.

The first pass of the drive, 00’s are written into the bits on the drive. The second pass, FF’s are written, and then random numbers are written on the disk.

So there you go, free easy disk wiping, already in Windows; who knew? 🙂

As a bonus to you who wear tinfoil hats, you could create a scheduled task in Windows to run Cipher.exe to keep your disk nice and clean.


You may also like...