Published 8:00 AM ET 3 October 2020
Moving a file to the trash on your PC or Mac gets rid of it for good, right? Not so fast.
These files may be viewed by others later and may slow down your computer. Press or click to see my favorite tricks to speed up an older computer.
The contents of the Mac Trash or Trash are emptied only when you empty them. Until then, it’s a treasure trove of files that anyone can cheat through. Worried that someone is keeping track of what you do on your computer? Click or click here for ways to make your own digital sleuthing.
If you have not shredded private documents correctly, they can still be found later on the road – even if you empty the rubbish bin. All it takes is a little knowledge to recover them.
I thought that file was deleted. What’s up?
When a file is deleted, the operating system removes the link to the file and marks the free space. Until it is overwritten by new information, that file still exists on your hard drive.
Most hard drives are quite large, so it may take some time before the file is gone for good. It gives a hacker or a snoop a good opportunity to obtain your data.
And just think of the old computer you are going to sell on eBay or take to Goodwill. You can transfer your entire digital life to a stranger. It’s a big mistake, but I have the steps to help you.
Procedure for deleting data forever
If you are serious about your personal safety, you need to delete sensitive data for good.
To do this, you need software such as Eraser or Blank and Secure for Windows.
Erasers, in particular, have many options for erasing data. It has a simple, clean interface and can permanently delete data from any drive that works with Windows. You can even schedule deletions automatically.
Blank and Secure is a portable deletion tool that you can save on a USB stick. It “shreds” files by overwriting the data with zeros before deleting it, making recovery impossible.
When macOS Sierra was released, Apple removed the secure delete option for both the Recycle Bin and the terminal. To shred files you want to remove from Macs, use a shredder app like Secure File Deletion – Digital File Shredder. It costs $ 4.99 to download.
If you use a software tool called CCleaner to keep your Windows PC buzzing smoothly, keep watching.
For a good free alternative, try CCleaner. It works with PCs and Macs to automatically clean up browser cookies, trackers, internet log, download log, cache and even individual session activity. You can also use it to delete files securely.
Go one step further for extra precautions
For an extra layer of security, you can encrypt the hard drive. Your data is converted into an illegible code that can only be decrypted with a specific key or password with encryption.
PC users can enable Windows’ built-in encryption tool, BitLocker. If you are looking for another option, VeraCrypt is a free open source encryption tool for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Macs also have their own built-in disk encryption tool, called FileVault. Like BitLocker, it helps prevent unauthorized access to your data and adds an extra layer of security in case your computer is stolen or lost.
FileVault is available for OS X Lion or later. When it is turned on, you must always log in with your account password.
Click to configure FileVault Apple menu and select System selection. Then click Security icon and enter your username and password. To open FileVault tabs, then select Turn on FileVault.
Solid-State Drive manufacturers also include management, encryption, and secure deletion tools, so check these available options as well.
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Learn about all the latest technology at the Kim Komando Show, the country’s largest radio talk show this weekend. Kim takes conversations and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to privacy and online hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
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