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  1. #1
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Need computer help.

    Is it possible to permanently delete one file from a hard drive?

  2. #2
    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    First...define permanent?

    If you want no way of it being recovered, look in to tools that do this.
    Quote Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
    - it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.

  3. #3
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingTermite View Post
    First...define permanent?

    If you want no way of it being recovered, look in to tools that do this.
    I've read up a bit on this. It appears that everything short of total hard drive destruction can still be brought back. It does appear that certain tools will "permanently" delete files that can't be brought up with normal software but they all seem to be above my skills.

    So, when you empty the trash, how difficult is it to get that info back? Does it require software at that level or can it be brought up by normal means?

  4. #4
    Riding Heaven's Highways on the grand tour ModoVincere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    I've read up a bit on this. It appears that everything short of total hard drive destruction can still be brought back. It does appear that certain tools will "permanently" delete files that can't be brought up with normal software but they all seem to be above my skills.

    So, when you empty the trash, how difficult is it to get that info back? Does it require software at that level or can it be brought up by normal means?
    emptying the trashcan does not delete the data from the HD. It merely deletes the entry in the file indexing system....kind of like takeing a card out of the library card file...the books still there, and you can find it if you know where to look.
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    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ModoVincere View Post
    emptying the trashcan does not delete the data from the HD. It merely deletes the entry in the file indexing system....kind of like takeing a card out of the library card file...the books still there, and you can find it if you know where to look.
    So you can still dig in and find the file without using some tool to do it? What would it actually take? Would you find the file in a general search or would you have to actively seek it out?

  6. #6
    Riding Heaven's Highways on the grand tour ModoVincere's Avatar
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    special software would be required to recover the file.
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  7. #7
    GATC
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    What does defragmenting do? And I thought there were defragmenting options that filled 0s into the newly arranged blank (or, rather, no longer claimed) space.

  8. #8
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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  9. #9
    call me T.J.
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    Who are you protecting the file contents from? A casual looker? A forensics expert? A hostile foreign government?

    If you're trying to delete a file as far as an ordinary user is concerned, emptying the Recycle Bin will pretty much do it.

    If you have truly sensitive information that MUST NOT be revealed, then physical destruction is your safest bet.

  10. #10
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    I think if you write the name of the file in question on the side of a gimormous magnet, and then hold that magnet to your hard drive, the file should stick to the magnet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
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  11. #11
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    I think if you write the name of the file in question on the side of a gimormous magnet, and then hold that magnet to your hard drive, the file should stick to the magnet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    So you can still dig in and find the file without using some tool to do it? What would it actually take? Would you find the file in a general search or would you have to actively seek it out?
    As ModoVincere said, the file contents will still be in the same place, it's just that those sectors have now been marked as "unused". You need to write over those sectors to make sure the contents can't be recovered.

    Now, some people think overwriting once is enough, some people believe you should do it multiple times.

    If you're running Windows, you can use something like SureDelete (http://nooneown.googlepages.com/) which will basically clean all the unused sectors from whatever contents there might be left.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tero View Post
    As ModoVincere said, the file contents will still be in the same place, it's just that those sectors have now been marked as "unused". You need to write over those sectors to make sure the contents can't be recovered.

    Now, some people think overwriting once is enough, some people believe you should do it multiple times.

    If you're running Windows, you can use something like SureDelete (http://nooneown.googlepages.com/) which will basically clean all the unused sectors from whatever contents there might be left.
    This about covers it. A defrag might do it, and it might not depending on where stuff is. Generally you need to overwrite with random data a couple times to be sure. Magnets won't do anything unless you remove the shell first.

  14. #14
    Senior Member azncarbos's Avatar
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    When I was working in County as IT.....We use a software to complete clean out all sectors on the HDD and become untraceable.....if you looking at that route...let me know...

  15. #15
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huhenio View Post
    chainsaw
    I prefer a recip saw with bimetal Wood & Nails blades. And eye protection!


    ...and I'm not joking either; when I was The I.T. Guy at a non-profit with sensitive HIPAA-protected data, that was how I destroyed hard drives, after running DBAN on ones that still functioned. Recover THIS

  16. #16
    Senior Member MrCrassic's Avatar
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    Vincere got it right...deleting a file in most operating systems only removes its index from the file system, not the actual data. If the data in that original index position gets overwritten by new data, then the original data can be considered permanently lost or corrupted at best. If you need to delete all traces of a file on the disk, you have to have its area(s) overwritten with zeros or random data at least a few times. This is usually good enough for most applications, but more sensitive situations will require complete destruction of the hard drive, which is usually done by degaussing it followed by a few rounds of drilling.
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  17. #17
    Certified Roller
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    ehh I am under the impression that when you delete something, the index is lost and HD space is recovered.

    The people above seem to be saying that if I had an 8 gig movie that I wanted to delete, i would delete it to the recycling bin, then empty the recycling bin, and the file would still be there and I would still be down 8 gigs.

    I do not find this to be the case.

    I have been told that there is a ghosting effect of deleted files that can be recovered, for instance with a hard drive crash, but even these are hard to recover.

    Honestly, I think your best bet would be to delete the file FROM ITS ROOT FOLDER, not its shortcut, and then empty the trash. Then turn your machine off to erase the cache, and you should be off and running. Hard-drive space recovered and all.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member gerald_g's Avatar
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    The 8GB file will still be there, but the sectors will be available to the OS for saving other files. As time goes by, other things you save will be written to those sectors. This is why recovery from accidental deletion is best done ASAP.

    From what I understand, there is a standard overwrite of X times that can be adopted for safe overwriting of the sectors with random 1s and 0s. My organization has used software which writes over hard drives 7 times (I think), and then we feel safe enough to recycle the computers to schools etc. We, however, are not protecting national secrets, and we don't believe the folks who receive our old computers are spending big bucks on forensic data recovery services.

    I believe that if you overwrite the sectors 7 times (with cleaning software), the data would need more than recovery software to read. I think you'd have to send it to specialists who open the hard drive up had use tools unknown to me to recover.

  19. #19
    Dumb@s$ Jarhead mrt10x's Avatar
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    There are programs, like Cleansweep, that will delete and overwrite your files to different security standards. A low standard, takes just a few seconds, but if you choose a DOD security standard, the overwriting and deletion of the "empty" spaces on your hard drive can take several hours. Hypothetically, after running that process no deleted files should be able to be recovered by any software, even the FBI, etc.
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  20. #20
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    The one thing you'll never remove is that image of chipcom naked burned into your brain.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  21. #21
    Blocking your fire exits coffeecake's Avatar
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    I usually go to Lifehacker for stuff like this, they'll have some links on some serious file-deleting software. If that doesn't work I second jsharr's suggestion. If that still doesn't work, you had better do a deep clean. Make sure the dishwasher is set to "Pots and Pans".
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  22. #22
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
    The one thing you'll never remove is that image of chipcom naked burned into your brain.
    not even with a drill?


  23. #23
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    Pop up a MS-DOS prompt. Type in:

    cypher /w:c:\

    Let it run its three passes. Perhaps if you want, run it a couple more times.

    All free space is now gone under Windows.

  24. #24
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    holy crap. I don't think I needed computer help as much as IB did...

  25. #25
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
    Pop up a MS-DOS prompt. Type in:

    cypher /w:c:\

    Let it run its three passes. Perhaps if you want, run it a couple more times.

    All free space is now gone under Windows.
    Close, it's cipher. Note that the Home editions of Windows don't have cipher.

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