When you delete a file on your PC, where does it go? Yes, to the Recycle Bin, and if you deleted the file or directory by mistake, you can simply restore it back to its original location – no harm, no foul.
When you empty your recycle bin, then you free up the disk space consumed by those deleted files. Then the files are gone, right? Wrong!
Deleted files on your PC, even after you empty the Recycle Bin, are still there on your hard drive. Semi-skilled persons with easily acquired tools (many by reputable brands such as Symantec) can bring back “deleted” files with little effort.
Here’s why: when you delete a file on your PC, the file is just “dereferenced” from its directory. The contents of a deleted file are untouched when the file is deleted. It’s like erasing your name from the tax rolls, but your house is still there, no longer in the list. (wouldn’t that be a nice erasure?!)
You should be concerned about this. Were someone to get into your computer, they could easily look for deleted files, hoping to harvest information that could be sensitive and/or valuable. You can do something about this: you can erase your files when you delete them!
Windows does not come with this capability; you must obtain a tool for this purpose. The tool I recommend without reservation is Eraser. This tool is fast, effective, and easy to use. You can use it in one of two ways: 1) erase files you want to delete now, and 2) erase files you deleted in the past by erasing the “free space” on your hard drive.
You can find Eraser here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/eraser/
Eraser is easy to install and use. When you want to erase a file, just right-click and select Erase.
You can also erase the Recycle Bin by right-clicking on the Recycle Bin and selecting Erase Recycle Bin.
Finally, you can erase your free space by starting Eraser from the Start menu and selecting File > New Task > Unused Spaced on Drive, then select your hard drive (usually C:). You can schedule Eraser to wipe the free space on your hard drive after hours (which I recommend, since Eraser is pretty efficient and makes your computer noticeably slower).