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FAQ / DATA SECURITY > SECURE FILE DELETE
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Secure data deletion



HOW TO SECURELY DELETE FILES AND FOLDERS

HOW TO SECURELY DELETE FREE DISK SPACE

SECURE FILE DELETION, MORE INFORMATION

secure file eraser



"Secure delete" function in context menu and in "File tools" submenu is intended for deleting file and folders in a secure way, overwriting multiple times disk sectors where information is stored, function also known as file shredding, or data erasure.
This is a permanent and unrecoverable deletion of data, not allowing any recovery of erased information from disk - similar to software like SDelete or CCleaner.
Non-secure deletion, as usually implemented on most operating systems, is a plain de-referencing of the file name in the file system allocation structure, leaving unaffected the data stored on disk until it is, by chance, overwritten by new data.
This allows information to be recovered by data-recovery softare if not overwritten with fresh data, otherwise specialized hardware recovery tools can be used to scan the surface of the disk (or memory cells) to detect with a reasonable range of certaininty up to a few previously stored states in the same memory unit.

PeaZip's secure data delete utility accepts multiple files and/or directories as input and provides multiple overwriting of file data with random data stream (AES256 CTR) forcing flush to disk each time, then replacement of content with randomly sized random data to fake file size, and multiple renaming of the file with random string.
PeaZip file explorer query the filesystem with its own custom functions, based from low level primitives rather than relying on operating system's high level file browsing API; that (in some instances) enables the program to show data otherwise not visible - not simply hidden, but otherwise purposely protected or made not accessible to system file manager, by the operating system itself or even malicious software.
At current level of development however, PeaZip cannot unlock files locked by other processes (requires to find and kill the process locking the file) in order to remove undeletable files - this has be done separately by dedicated, system-specific utilities.

secure delete

Use secure file deletion very carefully, since permanently deleted data will reasonably be not recoverable with known - hardware or software - data recovery tools.

secure file delete


Please note that secure file deletion doesn’t overcome all known risks of data leakage, since may exist copies of the data as temporary files saved by application that accessed the file, or as not securely deleted older version of the file, or cached by the system: clearing a file cannot affect that orphaned data, which can be recovered with software utilities or specific hardware probes.

Flash based storage

Flash units (as solid state disks SSD or USB keys) usually re-allocates sectors for writing transparently for the software, in order to reduce unit’s wear since flash units have a shorter lifespan in terms of writes; this doesn’t allow to efficiently physically overwrite original content, reducing the efficiency of file shredding.
In this case only erasing the whole disk (with one or more random data passage on all the free space) would be effective, but this can be very time consuming and, for flash based or hybrid drives, it will lead to fast wear and reduced lifespan of devices.

Cloud and remote storage

Data stored on remote servers (as in cloud services) may be subject to periodic backup unknowingly to users, so please consider that copy of the data before erasure may exists on servers, out of the reach of users, if such services are used, unless differently specified in terms of service.
Moreover, as terms of services are often subject to variations, and limitations in user's rights depending on the laws applying to the provider of the services (such as, possibly, do any effort in providing access to user's data under some circumstances), it is highly recommended encrypting data on user's end before upload to any external machine, even when encryption is offered as service by the remote storage / cloud service provider.

"Quick delete" is provided as an alternative to secure deletion by PeaZip, this action deletes files and folders without moving data to the recycle bin, which is faster and increases security against forgetting of recycled data.
Like secure deletion, fast deletion does not allows to recover data from the system's recycle bin, but as it is not intended for securely sanitizing data, it is feasible to recover data destroyed with fast delete using appropriate undelete utilities.

Secure delete is also available for free space: the free disk space on the specified unit is physically overwritten multiple time with a random stream as in secure file deletion - it may take several minutes on large disks - likewise software as OS X Disk Utility to erase free space, or cipher /w command in Windows
In this way leftover remanants of data previously saved to disk (deleted files, reallocated sectors, ...) are replaced by random data, making analysys of free space useless.
This level of security is not matched by formatting the volume, as quick format routines does not overwrite existing data, which can be recovered with specific utilities, and even more through format utilities does not implement a multi-pass overwriting of free space with random data, making previous state of the disk recoverable with suitable hardware scanning equipment.

Zero delete files and free space is also available, the function overwrites data with all zeroes before deletion. It is recommended to be performed before saving disk images either of physical machines (for backup and disaster recovery) and for virtual machines' disk images, as more uniform (zeroed) data is much more easily compressible - learn more optimizing virtual machines and disk images backup

Secure file deletion, more information


External online resources: data erasuredata erasure, and data recoverydisaster recovery Wikipedia entries, disk sanitization software examples: OS X Disk Utilityapple os x disk utilities, and Microsoft cipher /woverwrite deleted files command.

Topics and search suggestions: secure delete sensitive data, permanently erase files on Microsoft Windows and Linux system, zeroing free space, secure volume deletion, DoD-compliant file shredding, disk wipe, data sanitization application, prevent data recovery, avoid undelete, secure disk unit deletion, overwrite free space on partition, file eraser software utility, shred files, sanitize data in files and on disk partitions.


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PeaZip is a free cross-platform file archiver that provides an unified portable GUI for many Open Source technologies like 7-Zip, FreeArc, PAQ, UPX...
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Features of PeaZip includes extract, create and convert multiple archives at once, create self-extracting archives, split/join files, strong encryption with two factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure deletion, find duplicate files, calculate hashes, export job definition as script.

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