The delete key on the computer is used by almost every computer user almost every day. Whether it's to correct a misplaced key stroke or get rid of a unwanted picture file, the delete key is used regularly. But did you know that when something is deleted it's not really gone from the computer's disc drive?
Of course often times using the delete key, as in the case of a picture or music file, will simply send that file to the Recycle Bin. Savvy users clean out their Recycle Bins and Temp files and Cookies on a regular basis using… wait for it… the delete key. For those who thought that this meant the information disappeared, think again.
There is a significant difference between deleting a file, File Shredding and Disk Wiping. When the delete key is used the file information is not annihilated, it remains on the disk. All the delete key does, in effect, is removes the “address” to that file. In practical terms that means that it frees up that portion of the disc so that other data can be written in the same space. While it's true that, eventually, after the same area of the disc has been written over three or four times the original data will disappear, it is never really completely obliterated simply because the delete key is used.
File Shredding, or “Wipe Disk” on the other hand, is more akin to shredding a piece of paper in a shredder. Yes, there are still letters on the scraps of paper and, theoretically they could be reconstructed, but the task is next to impossible. When it is necessary to completely destroy data and all usable traces of it, it is important to perform a “Wipe Disc.” The only certain way to do that is with File Shredding software. There are a number of good “Wipe Disk” programs available and they are the surest ways to destroy the data on a disk. These programs, and others like them, work by overwriting the space on the disc multiple times with nonsense or garbage. This renders the original data virtually unrecoverable.
Keep in mind, though, that even File Shredding with a good “Wipe Disk” program has some limitations. If the original file has been moved or broken up then even File Shredding might not work. If, for instance, a `Disk Defrag` has been performed since the original file was written then that file will be spread over several locations on the disc. In that case the only way to be sure the data is completely shredded is to Disk Wipe the entire segment or partition of that disc thus destroying all of the files in that segment or partition. Short of actually physically melting the disc, this is the surest way to obliterate data.
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