How To Permanently Delete Files Off Your Hard Drive [Infographic]

How To Permanently Delete Files Off Your Hard Drive [Infographic]
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Deleting sensitive files from your computer is easier said than done. Even if you remember to regularly empty your recycling bin, remnants of the offending files will still be lurking on your hard drive. This infographic breaks down all the ways to ensure absolutely nothing can be recovered.

The infographic below was compiled by StudyWeb from a range of online sources. It covers both PC and Mac as well as SSDs. There are also detailed instructions for a range of tried-and-trusted file shredding apps. The advice is chiefly centered on the effective deletion of individual files. If you’re looking to wipe an entire hard drive, check out our complete guide.



  • For those using Mac and Linux, the commands below are useful for zeroing out free space on the drive:

    dd if=/dev/zero of=zero.small.file bs=1024 count=102400
    cat /dev/zero > zero.file
    rm zero.small.file
    rm zero.file

    I’ve found the commands above very useful for zeroing out free space on Raspberry Pi SD cards before creating compressed images of them. Zeroing out the free space first allows for smaller image sizes.

    If you want to use the commands above to overwrite sensitive data, consider using /dev/random or /dev/urandom instead of /dev/zero.

  • DBAN is still a thing? Wow! if you really want to go nuts and be sure though, secure your data with a hammer and a blowtorch
    Interestingly – As of November 2007, the United States Department of Defense considers overwriting acceptable for clearing magnetic media within the same security area/zone, but not as a sanitization method. Only degaussing or physical destruction is acceptable for the latter (

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