Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Windows 7: Securely Erasing Data Using the Cipher Tool

When you delete files from the hard drive, that doesn't mean the data has been destroyed. There are several programs out there that can recover deleted files. There are also a great of programs that can securely erase files, and even whole hard drives.

What happens if you delete sensitive files, and want to make sure they are not recoverable. There is a command line tool that will allow you do it this, it's called the Cipher command.
Warning: This operation overwrites the selected files with
random characters, so they will not be recoverable after the operation is performed.

  • Open a command prompt with elevated privileges (in the Start menu search field type CMD.EXE and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter)
  • In the command prompt, type cipher /w [drive]:\[folder], substituting the drive letter and folder path for [drive] and [folder].

For example, to erase the contents of a folder named "Classified" in the Documents folder of a user named Ted on the C: drive, you would type "cipher /w C:\Users\Ted\Documents\Classified"

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