While putting a file in the trash, and then deleting it, may same like a good way to get rid of a file, the truth is that the file is still there. The thought that the file is completely gone is a common misconception, but more savvy computer users are becoming aware that deleting a file actually does nothing of the sort. It simply hides the file from the computer. For those that find this disconcerting, there are a number of ways to more thoroughly erase deleted files.
One of the easiest ways to erase deleted files is to format the hard drive. Usually, this will wipe the system completely clean, and even programs that usually are used in the recovery of deleted files will not be able to find them. This is one of the most drastic ways to get rid of files, but it usually does work.
Another way to erase files that have been deleted is to use a data eraser program. There are two kinds of data erasers. Some are used for individual files. Others are used for the entire hard drive. The option chosen is generally up to the user, but not all software products will do both. Users should understand what the difference is in the software products before purchasing. Otherwise, there is a good chance the consumer could be disappointed with the product.
Software that does a complete data wipe is very similar to formatting the hard drive. This will completely erase deleted files, along with all the other files on the computer. Those using this option should be very mindful of this, and make sure there are backups of all important files. This is the only way to completely recover everything that is wanted after the software finishes the job.
Other types of software used to erase deleted files can be used for single files only. This is probably the situation that most computer users will prefer. This will keep all other files on the machine, and save the user from the time-consuming process of reinstalling all their desired software products on the computer. This type of software is sometimes called a data shredder, and basically writes over the file several times with random data. The more times a file is overwritten, the harder it is to retrieve the original information.
For those who are especially concerned about sensitive information, it should be noted there truly is no way to guarantee any method used to erase deleted files. There could always be a chance that some data remains on the hard drive in recoverable form, especially as technology is always changing on both sides of the equation. Outside of physically destroying the hard drive, and installing new hardware, something still could be recovered if enough effort and time are put toward the task. However, in most cases, data shredding programs will do an adequate job of getting rid of unwanted files, unless the individual looking for it is extremely well trained.