How to Delete Files with Open Source Software

Did you know that when you delete a file on your computer it isn’t really deleted? Your computer marks the space the file uses on the hard disk as available, but the file is still there. The good news is that you can easily recover the deleted file — if you catch it before your PC overwrites it with another file.

The bad news is that when you sell old computers or send them to be recycled, your files are easily-recoverable. Passwords, sensitive documents, emails are easy pickings: all it takes is a snoopy person with readily-available recovery tools. Before you let old computers out the door, you should wipe all hard disks securely.

But what if you don’t want to wipe an entire hard drive? More good news: you can also securely delete individual files.

In this article we’ll look at open source software options for securely wiping hard disks, and secure file deletion.

Delete Files and Hard Drives with Open Source Software

Darik’s Boot and Nuke

DBAN: Darik's Boot and Nuke open source software

Back at the main DBAN screen, press the Enter/Return key to launch DBAN in interactive mode. This won’t delete anything; you’re still just looking around at this point. If DBAN detects more than one drive, use the arrow keys to navigate to the one you want to erase, and then press the space bar to select it. The word “wipe” appears on the one you choose.

At the bottom of the screen you’ll see your erase options: PRNG, Method, Verify, and Rounds. You can safely look at these without accidentally erasing anything, because you have to press F10 to start secure deletion. Let’s take a look at these options.

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