10 Free Tools to Permanently Delete Files and Prevent Data Recovery

6. Zer0

erase files with zer0

Made by KCSoftwares, Zer0 is a plain and simple tool that will allow you to drop files onto its window (folders are not accepted), and then deletes them securely. There appears to be very little information about the erasing method used by the program although some reports suggest it could be as many as 100 passes for each file. The procedure is still fast though thanks to the multithreading nature of the program. Zer0 has both a portable and installer version, installing will add a “Delete with Zer0” option into your right click context menu. Make sure to use the “Lite” installer as the full setup package contains several items of adware.

Download Zer0

7. DP Wipe

simple drag and drop erasing with DP Wipe

DP Wipe is a little bit like Zer0 in that it’s easy to use and only requires you to drop what you want to erase onto the main window. Where it does differ though is firstly, dropping folders onto the window is supported, and secondly the erase method to use is selectable. Zero’s, pseudo-random, RCMP, 2 US DoD’s and Gutmann are available so you can decide based on the importance of the data to shred. It does only come as a setup installer which will place a Send To icon in the right click menu, a portable version can easily be created by extracting the setup exe with 7-Zip.

Download DP Wipe

8. TurboShredder

java based turboshredder

Although the TurboShredder tool itself is small and portable, it does require the Java Runtime Environment to be installed which some users won’t have. TurboShredder does work in a way similar to most other tools allowing you to drop files and folders onto the main window or via the + button, but the number of erasing cycles is completely configurable. Just select the method of zero’s, one’s, random or securerandom and drag the slider to anywhere between 1 and 100 passes, obviously more is better security but slower. Using the zero pass option adds a +1 to the number of passes. The Regex box gives those with more experience the ability to filter filenames to be erased by using regular expressions. Command line options are available.

Download TurboShredder

9. EraserDrop

eraserdrop delete from desktop icon

This tool is based on the Eraser program API albeit the slightly older version from PortableApps.com, meaning EraserDrop itself is also portable. It works by simply adding a drop target icon onto your desktop, any files and folders you want to shred just drag and drop them onto the icon. Right clicking on the icon (you can move it around by holding the left Shift key) will bring up the Options menu where the erasing method of 1 pass up to 35 passes can be chosen, a hotkey can be setup, warnings and reports are turned on or off, or even change the icon if you wish. A few other useful tasks in the menu are wiping the free space on a selected drive and erasing the Recycle bin contents.

Download EraserDrop

10. SDelete

SDelete is different from the other tools here because it’s a command line tool making it more useful in scripts and batch files. SDelete is made by SysInternals, the same people behind Process Explorer and AutoRuns. In addition to being able to wipe files and folders with the number of passes you choose, it can also clean or zero the free space on a selected drive letter. The syntax is:

SDelete -p {number of passes} {files and folders to erase}
SDelete -p {number of passes) {-z for zero pass/-c for clean} {drive letter}

sdelete commands

You can also use -r or -s to recurse into sub folders and -q to suppress errors. The default number of passes is 1 so you don’t need to ue the -p command unless you want to increase it. There does seem to be some sort of bug in the current version which won’t delete a folder and its contents, the contents will be erased but the folder itself will remain intact with a “directory not empty” error. Running the same command again will then delete the folder as well.

Download SDelete

Editors Notes: As you might expect, the secure file delete function is also found in many other programs as an added on feature. Optimize/repair suites such as Glary Utilities and Tune-Up Utilities, security products like AVG antivirus and everyone’s favorite privacy tool CCleaner all have a file shredding option in some form. It’s worth checking the software you have already installed to see if a secure erase function is hidden away in the settings somewhere, although most of the tools in this article do make the job simple and easy to manage.

Because of the way they work, drives such as SSD’s and USB flash drives have a limited number of write cycles. We don’t advise you use too many erase passes because it will place extra wear on the drive reducing its lifespan, 2 or 3 passes is about the maximum you should go. For the most effective SSD erasing method, a secure erase is the best way but this will erase the whole drive completely, something to use perhaps a few times a year after backing up your system.

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