If you ever decide to give away your old computer after an upgrade, you need to make sure you securely wipe the hard drive. Performing a format or erasing the hard drive using built in Windows tools leaves your data in a recoverable state. Secure delete and erase tools address this problem.
Why Top 2? Why not Top 3? Well, there just aren’t that many good commercial secure file destruction tools out there. When looking for a tool to securely wipe hard drives or files, you’re sure to find a good set of free tools that will meet the needs of most users. You can read more about these here. However, if you are looking for something a bit more robust – offering more features or industrial strength disk wiping, you may consider a commercial product. The three products listed here are my top picks for securely wiping data from your hard drive.
What sets these apart from free tools – besides the price? For one, I’m looking for something beyond just simple disk or file wiping. The tool should offer other features. The tool should also be easy to install and easy to use. If the tool is too time consuming to use, you’ll find that you won’t use it!
Evidence Eliminator by Robin Hood Software is one of my two top picks. Evidence Eliminator (EE) is a light weight program (~5mb) that will securely erase files on your hard drive with a single click of a button. EE takes simplicity to a new level. With the click of one button, EE runs through deleting a laundry list of files and locations where temporary may be stored, such as the SWAP space, temp files, browsing history, etc. EE will also delete unused space – which is especially useful. In addition to this, you can set up your own custom lists of files or directories to securely delete.
According to one report by researchers from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the SANS Institute, Evidence Eliminator was the only tool out of six popular secure delete\erase tools to entirely eliminate any recoverable evidence during a file based wipe.
Evidence Eliminator is licensed on a per PC basis and is available from http://www.evidence-eliminator.com/ for $150. One particularly nice things is that once a license is purchased, upgrades are available at no cost for the life of the product.
PGP Desktop is a small business\home user security product that offers much more than just basic disk and file wiping abilities. Particular notes of interest are Email Encryption, PGP (encrypted) Zip Archives, Volume based disk encryption, and file shredding. The number of features packed into this suite make it worth the $99 price tag.
PGP’s user interface is easy to learn and many of the tools are available via plugin (Email encryption) or context menus in Windows Explorer. A standard user interface is also available where you can drag files into the window to shred them. The File Shred option securely deletes selected files or directories.
The ease of use and powerful set of tools makes PGP Desktop an attractive security package. More information on PGP Desktop can be found here.