How to Delete Your Sensitive Information Securely

3 min readDec 29, 2020
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Whenever you delete a file from your computer , you assume that it is gone forever. The truth is far from it. Lets see what actually happens when you delete a file and find out how you can securely incinerate your digital data.

What actually happens when you delete a file:

You will usually delete a file using the DEL key , moving it to the Recycle Bin. Most of you might even use the “permanent delete” option called Shift+Delete. The problem with these methods is that they don’t permanently delete your data from the storage.

Imagine your hard disk has a register. Whenever a new file is stored inside your disk , it acquires some sectors of the disk and this is noted down in the register. Whenever you want to access a file , something called Pointers lets the computer know where the file is stored using the register and it is then retrieved from that location. Now when you delete any file , only the pointers to the data from the register are deleted. Because of this the computer is unable to access the file. Since the register no longer contains the location of the data , these sectors are marked available for re-use. Unless new files are stored in these sectors , the previous data still lies dormant.

Permanently deleting files in Windows:

Eraser is an open-source, easy to use software used to securely delete data through a process called wiping, where your dormant data is overwritten multiple times with random characters thus making it almost impossible to retrieve your old data.

  1. Install Eraser using this link.
  2. Right click on a file or folder and Use the ‘Eraser’ Option , press ‘Erase’ and click ‘Yes’.

Tip: Eraser can also be used to securely delete your entire hard disk storage as well.

Permanently delete files in Android:

Use the Data Eraser cb application available for Android devices to delete your sensitive data.

  1. Open the app , click on Select Files -> Internal Storage -> [ Hold the Preferred file or folder]
  2. Now Select the method of deletion as to how many times you want to overwrite the data. The more , the better. So lets go with BSI which has 8 rounds.

3. Check the box and click ‘OK’.

You probably have a lot of sensitive data such as Passwords , Personally Identifiable Information or work related documents that can be harmful in the hands of someone with malicious intent. So if you don’t securely delete your data, imagine a scenario where your device gets stolen or if someone has access to it, they can use specialized recovery tools to get that data. And that is why you must always securely delete your private and confidential information.

Note: Securely Deleting is also helpful when you are selling your device to a total stranger whose technical capabilities are unknown.

Have a good one.