Unrecoverable delete – how to permanently erase your files

unrecoverable delete

5 min read – published on May 27, 2020

Every person that has ever used a computer has had to delete a file at some point. It’s easy, just select the file, and press the conveniently located Delete key on the keyboard. But where does it go? Is there afterlife for files?

You might already know that when you delete a file to the Recycle Bin, it isn’t actually deleted, it’s simply moved to a different, system folder that we know as the “Recycle Bin”, which can be emptied whenever necessary. Possibly inspired by trash cans in real life, the idea is for users to able to easily restore files they had deleted accidentally or too hastily.

What you might NOT know, however, is that after you empty the Recycle Bin (or delete a file using Shift+Delete, which skips the Recycle Bin altogether), files are still not really deleted.

All volumes on your hard drive contain a file called the Master File Table. It acts as database for all files and folders on that particular volume. Whenever a file is created on the volume, an entry is written to the Master File Table with various information about said file, including what region on the file system it occupies. When you delete a file, what actually happens is that the aforementioned entry in the Master File Table gets erased, but the actual data, the contents of the file itself, is left completely intact. To the operating system, the region on the volume where the actual file is located now appears empty, so from that point on the operating system can use that region to store data for other files, overwriting any existing data that had belonged to the deleted file.

Only removing the entry in the Master File Table, without fully wiping the actual contents of the file, results in much faster deletion. For the vast majority this works out just because few people have sensitive data that needs to be deleted securely, and the contents of already deleted files will be overwritten sooner or later, during regular computer usage.

However, since there are no guarantees how much of the old data would be overwritten, and when; and, also since “most” isn’t the same as “all”, that means that some users actually do need means of erasing files securely, as important files, be they personal or business, falling into the wrong hands can cause anything from an annoyance to embarrassment, to severe financial distress, to catastrophes.

Fortunately, there are numerous tools that can help you wipe your data so that it can no longer be recovered.

One such utility is Revo Uninstaller’s very own Unrecoverable Delete tool.

Revo Uninstaller’s Unrecoverable Delete wipes the data using advanced patterns, which takes more time than simple deletion, but renders the data impossible to recover, even if you try to do that with the most expensive software on the market.

Here is a screenshot of the Unrecoverable Delete tool:

screenshot of Unrecoverable Delete tool

To add files, use the Add File(s) button. You can select individual files in a folder by holding down the Ctrl key, and clicking each file.

If, you wish to wipe an entire folder, use the Add Folder button instead.

After you have added all files and/or folders you wish to be wiped, click the Delete Forever button. Revo Uninstaller will display a progress bar with the estimated remaining time of the operation, and you can also Pause/Resume the Process or cancel it.

Please note, however, that canceling the wiping process will not restore any files that had already been wiped successfully, so make sure to double check the list before you start the procedure.

By understanding what actually happens with your files once you delete them, you can now take proper actions when you want to permanently remove confidential files from your PC. By using Revo Uninstaller’s tool – Unrecoverable Delete you have all the means to erase all of your unwanted files forever.


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