6. File Shredder
File Shredder, as its name suggests, is a free tool meant for shredding single and multiple files including free disk space with Windows shell right click integration. To wipe the free disk space, run File Shredder and click on “Shred Free Disk Space” at the left pane. A new window will open where you can select the disk to wipe and the algorithm to use. Click the Next button and then Start.
File Shredder supports 5 types of wiping algorithm which are a single pass of zeros, 2 passes, DOD 5220.22-M (3 passes), 7 passes, and the paranoid Gutmann 35 passes. Make sure to press the back button once the process has finished or you’ll start the wipe again.
7. Moo0 Anti-Recovery
Moo0 Anti-Recovery is a free and very easy to use program that cleans the empty spaces on a drive with random data. Install the program, then you only need to select the drive that you want to process from the drop down, the other options can be left alone if you are not sure. The version we used offered two of their other tools during install, so make sure you pay attention to the install process.
The options to empty the recycle bin, clear free space in the MFT (Master File Table), and wipe the cluster tips are enabled by default. The fifth option of clearing file name traces from the MFT is not selected by default and the program notes it could take some time. The random data is written to the free space once, which should be fine for most normal drives and situations.
8. ASCOMP Secure Eraser
Secure Eraser is free for non commercial use and it has a number of useful options to securely erase data. These include erasing junk files, registry cleaning, file/folder erasing, drive and partition erasing, and drive free space cleaning. The free version doesn’t appear to be feature limited but it does pop up a nag window when any task has been completed.
Press the “Free space deletion” button in the main window and click on the required drive to highlight it. When the “Start deletion” button is pressed you will be presented with the wipe methods on offer. They are 1 pass random data, 3 pass DOD 5220.22-M, 7 pass German standard, 7 pass extended DOD 5220.22-M, and the famous 35 pass Gutmann method.
Three extra options of clean MFT, clean USN Journal, and overwrite slack space are enabled by default. There’s probably no need to change them unless you know what you are doing. The small blue buttons above the start button are for shutting down the computer or exiting the program on completion.
BleachBit is a free and well-known utility for cleaning junk files from your computer. There are two ways to wipe free space using BleachBit. The first is to click the top left Options menu, select “Wipe Free Space” and choose a folder on the drive. The second method is to check “Free disk space” from the System category and click the Clean icon.
The program requires you to select a folder on the drive as opposed to just the drive letter or the clean will fail. Using the Options menu, you can choose a folder from the dialog. To use the Clean option you have to go to Options > Preferences > Drives and add a folder manually to the list. An entry for the C drive should already be there so you only need to add a folder for other drives.
BleachBit wipes the space using a single pass of blank data (zeros). The developer believes this is totally sufficient and additional passes do nothing but slow down the process. Both portable and installer versions are available.
10. Windows Cipher.exe and Raymonodcc Free Space Wiper Frontend
The Windows Cipher tool located in the System32 folder is actually a file encryption utility. It can also be used to wipe data from unused disk space. Simply open a Command Prompt or PowerShell window and type the command below followed by the drive letter.
Cipher uses three passes to overwrite the specified drive’s free space. It starts with zeros, then the opposite (FF’s), and finally random data (similar to DOD 5220.22-M). The advantage of using the Cipher tool is the availability in the Windows operating system since Windows 2000 plus you can run it from a Command Prompt without elevation.
Raymonodcc Free Space Wiper Frontend
Although the first tab of our Free Space Wiper Frontend tool is for SDelete, the other tab is for this Cipher tool. Because Cipher is already in Windows you don’t need to download anything else.
All you have to do is run the tool and go to the Cipher tab, select which drive’s free space you want to clean from the drop down and press the run button. The Cipher command will open in a console window and perform the three passes free space erase.
Final Note: Talking about the most effective way to wipe drive data always sparks debate online. However, even Peter Gutmann, the man associated with the famous 35 pass method has said a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do on modern drives. Other companies like Bleachbit also say similar things in that you don’t need several passes for the wipe to be effective and it’s mostly just a waste of time.
Therefore, we’d recommend the three pass DOD 5220.22-M as the absolute most any normal user will require and you really don’t need to go above that. Even a single pass of random data should be enough in most cases.