Secure File Deleter is a freeware tool that you can use to shred sensitive data

We store a lot of personal information on our computers; if you don’t organize your files, you may be surprised at what you can find on your system. The importance of data will of course vary based on its cotent, e.g. financial statements, medical records, contracts or receipts.

When you no longer need such data, you shouldn’t just delete them as you would normally. Many offices have a paper shredder to prevent their data from being misused.

You can have a similar tool at your disposal, a digital one for protecting your documents and files. The program I’m talking about here, is called Secure File Deleter. The tool’s interface doesn’t have toolbars or a lot of buttons. Let’s begin by picking some files to shred.

There are multiple ways to do this, the easiest of which is to drag and drop the files on to the program’s interface, or drop them on the desktop icon if you don’t have the tool opened. You can also click the add files button in the application’s GUI, to browse for the files.

If you want to delete all files in a directory, choose the Add folders option. Do remember that this option will delete subfolders, so pay attention to what you are doing.

Secure File Deleter. The secnd menu item opens the program with administrator rights. The application lists the added items on the right pane. If you changed your mind and want to keep some files, you don’t have to start over, just uncheck the files before hitting the Next button.

It is time to choose the deletion settings. In order to remove all traces of the file, the program will overwrite it with random data. The value for this option is set at 5, as in 5% of data will be overwritten, the idea is to corrupt the file making it literally unusable. This setting isn’t enabled by default.   The next option, Delete File Usage Data, erases some advanced properties of the files, such as when it was created, modified or accessed. The last setting on the page empties the file before deleting it from the MFT (Master File Table).

Click the next button, and you will be given more options, these help in preventing recovery of the data. Secure File Deleter renames your files by assigning random names, before erasing the contents. The utility also overwrites the file multiple times, called passes, with random data. This is common in many file deletion programs. Secure File Deleter does three passes by default, and I wouldn’t recommend setting a higher value for this as it won’t impact the outcome.

The last option on the page is for selecting the algorithm used for shredding the files. Unfortunately, this is locked behind a paywall aka a Premium version, so free users cannot access it. These are standard military algorithms which are used for highly sensitive data, that you don’t want to fall in the wrong hands. This maybe a bit overkill, so the other options should be sufficient for most people.

When you click next, Secure File Deleter  will display a confirmation page that has a summary of all the settings that you have selected. If you’d like to make some changes, hit the back button. Click the Start button to begin the shredding process, it takes a couple of seconds, and tells you whether the files were deleted successfully.

As with any file deletion tool, I’d advise using Secure File Deleter with care. You don’t want to delete something that’s important, because you can’t recover it.

You may also check out SDelete, a free tool by Microsoft or Perma-Delete, two of the many alternatives to delete files securely.

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