10 Free Tools to Permanently Delete Files and Prevent Data Recovery

6. Blank and Secure

This is another useful portable tool by SoftwareOK and it’s only a few hundred KB. It’s very easy to use and has not many options, but the options that are available are useful. Blank and Secure can overwrite files and folders between 1 and 35 times. The overwrites will all be with random numbers before the files are deleted. The overwrite and delay before deletion options are drop down menus in the middle of the window.

Blank and secure

Files and folders are added to Blank and Secure via drag and drop. Alternatively, you can enable a context menu entry or a “Send to” entry from the menu at the top left. Another feature in the menu is the ability to wipe the free space of a drive and fill it with random numbers. That’s useful if you have previously deleted important files but not used a secure deleted option.

Download Blank and Secure


7. Eraser

The Eraser application is definitely a more serious and focused shredding tool with some advanced features compared to many other tools of this type. One such addition is the erasing scheduler which allows you to run tasks to shred files, folders, free space, or the Recycle bin contents at specific times or on system restart, etc.

Erase files

It also has 13 different erase algorithms to choose from, Windows Explorer integration, an option to unlock locked files before erasing them, free space erase when you right click the drive in Explorer, and the ability to replace erased files with pre-selected files to allow for “plausible deniability”. Eraser defaults to 35 passes for file shredding so it’s best to go into settings and change it to something more sensible, like 1 or 2 passes of random data.

Download Eraser


8. 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 Zer0 although some online comments suggest it could be as many as 100 passes for each file. Because of this lack of clarity, we’d recommend you avoid using the program on SSD drives.

Zer0

However many passes are used, the procedure is still fast 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. There is an ad button for another KC Softwares product near the top so don’t click on it thinking it’s a function or feature of Zer0 itself.

Download Zer0


9. DP Wipe

DP Wipe is easy to use and only requires you to drop what you want to erase onto the main window. Dropping folders onto the window is supported, and also the erase method to use is selectable. Zero’s, pseudorandom, RCMP, 2 US DoD’s, and Gutmann methods are available so you can decide based on the importance of the data to shred. The single pass pseudorandom option should be enough for most use cases.

Dp wipe

It does only come as a setup installer which will place a Send To icon in the right click menu. However, the program is really only a single executable so extracting the setup installer with 7-Zip will easily create a portable version, minus the send to shortcut.

Download DP Wipe


10. SDelete

SDelete is different from the other software here because it’s a command line tool making it more useful in scripts and batch files. SDelete is made by Microsoft owned 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. The syntax is:

SDelete -p {number of passes} {files and folders to erase}

or

SDelete -p {number of passes) {-z for zero pass/-c for clean} {drive letter:}

Sdelete files

You can also use -s to recurse into subfolders and -r to remove file read only attributes. The default number of passes is one so you only need the -p command to increase it. SDelete overwrites a file three times using the DOD 5220.22-M standard, firstly zeros, then ones, then random data. As a single pass already overwrites three times, there really shouldn’t be any need to use more passes.

Download SDelete


Final Note: As we have a separate article on wiping free drive space, there are some tools listed there that can also shred files that we haven’t listed here. They include Hard Disk Scrubber and ASCOMP Secure Eraser. The secure file delete function is also found in many other programs like optimize/repair suites, antivirus suites, and privacy tools like CCleaner and BleachBit.

Memory based drives like SSD’s and USB flash drives have a limited number of write cycles. We don’t advise you to use too many erase passes because it will place extra wear on the drive reducing its lifespan. SSD functions like TRIM and garbage collection naturally erase the files anyway after a period of time so securely deleting a file from an SSD is only required if you need to shred its contents straight away.

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