Securely deleting already “deleted” files

Deleting one or more files under Windows normally just moves those files to the recycle bin. These files only disappear from view when the recycle bin is full or the user proactively empties it.

In truth the files are still on the computer drive – only the references to them in the file system index have actually been removed. As a result the files you think are deleted are actually still on the disk or drive and can easily be recovered with the best file recovery software, such as O&O DiskRecovery. Overwriting the entire storage volume is one possibility for securely deleting the files but this is not always a sensible or practical option.

In order to be absolutely sure that all those files that were deleted in the “usual” way really cannot be reconstructed – and without having to delete the entire storage volume – O&O SafeErase offers the option of securely deleting free disk space on the hard disk, also known as “free space wiping”. In addition there also options available to delete the “Cluster Tips” and “MFT Entries. The “Cluster Tips” can theoretically contain small file fragments of old files, whereas the MFT Entries can offer help establishing the names of files.

These methods enable you to delete already deleted items securely, after the event. All other files remain intact, only the “free space” is overwritten several times. Reconstructing the data traces held there is then impossible.

There are several deletion methods available for overwriting free space. With today’s hard disk sizes it is normally sufficient to simply overwrite free space once, whereas with older disks with a capacity of 120GB the data should be overwritten 7 times in view of the lower storage density.


You should regularly delete the free space areas on your hard disks to prevent identity theft and to fully protect your privacy!