Most Windows users know that when you delete a file it isn’t really deleted. In the first instance it is stored in the Recycle Bin, which gives you a reprieve on those occasions when you didn’t mean to delete it in the first place.
If you empty the Recycle Bin, the files are ‘deallocated’ from your hard drive. Again, the files aren’t deleted: the space they occupy is merely marked as available to use.
This is the reason why undelete utilities work: you can get back deleted photos and files without too much hassle if you act quickly.
But what about those times when you want to ensure no-one can recover a particular file? That’s when secure deletion utilities come into play.
How do I permanently delete a file?
Not many people know this, but Windows has its own built-in secure deletion tool called Cipher that\’s been present since Windows XP came out. If you prefer not to download any third-party software, this is going to be the best method for you. And while we\’re using Windows 10 here, it works on all versions back to XP.
Cipher doesn’t have a graphical interface so it isn’t amazingly user friendly, but the command you need to type is simple enough.
NOTE: You must delete the files you want to securely erase before running Cipher. This means emptying the Recycle Bin, or selecting the files and pressing Shift+Delete. Cipher only securely erases files which have already been deleted.
To run Cipher, launch PowerShell (which has replaced Command Prompt) by right-clicking on the Start menu and choosing Windows PowerShell from the menu.
Now type the following:
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