Privacy is a massive concern for everyone these days. Our data is arguably the most valuable thing we own, and keeping it safe and secure is extremely important. The potential danger of your data falling into the wrong hands is just too high and can have devastating outcomes. So, it has become increasingly crucial to make sure that our data is completely secure.
Usually, when we sell or lend our devices to other people, we tend to delete our private data to prevent its misuse. While the data does disappear, it is not really ‘deleted’.
When you delete any file from a hard disk, it is not completely erased and data can still be recovered from it with relatively low effort. This is because data is never actually deleted from a hard disk. So, the only true way to completely destroy data is to destroy the hard disk itself. However, there are a few methods of deleting data that make it impossibly hard to recover.
Permanently delete data on a Windows PC:
When you delete a file on your PC, it goes into the recycle bin. Most people think that once the recycle bin has been emptied out, their data is permanently gone. However, in reality, that is not the case and your data can still be recovered using special recovery software.
So, in order to ensure that your sensitive and confidential data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, you need to use a tool that shreds/erases your data. One of the best tools for this job is Eraser. It permanently deletes specific files on your PC. Here’s how to use it:
- Download the latest version of Eraser and install it.
- Once it is installed, navigate to the file or folder that you wish to erase permanently.
- Right click the file or folder, hover over Eraser, and then click Erase.
Click yes to confirm that you wish to erase the specified file. You will then get a notification once the action is complete.
Eraser not only deletes the files, it also overwrites them over and over again so that they cannot be accessed by recovery tools anymore.
Completely wipe the hard drive on your PC
If you want to completely wipe your hard drive instead of erasing specific files, you can use CCleaner’s drive wiper tool. Here’s how to do it:
- Download CCleaner and install it.
- Open CCleaner, click Tools and select Drive Wiper.
- Choose the type of wipe that you wish to perform along with the security level.
- Select the drives that you wish to wipe and click Wipe.
Doing this will delete your data from the hard drive and then overwrite it to prevent any future recovery.
Permanently delete data on a Mac:
When it comes to devices running MacOS, securely deleting your data is actually as easy as it gets. This is because the latest versions of MacOS encrypt your hard drive right from the start, saving you some additional labor. So, unlike Windows, even if you do not erase your data completely, your data is still tucked in behind a relatively safe barrier which can’t be easily broken by third party data recovery tools.
In addition to that, most modern Macs use SSDs instead of traditional hard drives. SSDs work differently from traditional hard drives and do not require additional steps to completely wipe your data. Just moving it to the trash app and emptying it should be enough.
However, if you have an HDD, the data on your Mac is still not completely impervious to getting hacked open despite the encryption. Thankfully, you don’t need any third-party software as MacOS has a pretty handy built-in disk utility. Here’s how to use it:
- Press Command+Space to open the Spotlight search and search for ‘Disk Utility‘.
- Select a drive and click Erase.
- Choose the number of passes that you wish to perform. Usually, one or two should be enough.
- Click OK to initiate the wiping process.
Secure delete specific files on MacOS:
Unfortunately, if you have a Mac with an HDD and wish to secure erase specific files, disk utility won’t help. However, you can still download third-party apps to help you with that. Here’s what you can do:
- Download CleanMyMac and install it.
- Launch the app and select the ‘Shredder’ option down in the bottom left.
- Select the files or the folders that you wish to erase completely.
Permanently delete data on an Android phone:
Android phones are notoriously unsafe when it comes to data protection. While modern smartphones are much better in terms of keeping your data safe, they are still nowhere near the level of security that you’d ideally want.
In addition to that, doing a factory reset doesn’t completely erase your data either. So, if you really want to delete your private data permanently in a secure manner, you need to use a third-party secure erase app. Just follow these steps:
- Go to the Google Play Store and download Secure Eraser.
- Choose whether you’d like to secure erase files from your internal memory or the external microSD card.
- Tap the Start button to begin the secure erase process.
This will erase all of your deleted data securely so it can no longer be recovered using recovery software.
Secure erase data on an iPhone:
iOS devices are arguably the best when it comes to keeping your data secure from intruders. Like MacOS, iOS also encrypts your data right from the start so that you don’t have to worry about keeping it safe.
Likewise, the data deletion process is extremely simple as well and permanently wipes all of your data without having to install any third party apps. Here’s how you can wipe an iPhone in a secure manner:
- Go to Settings and tap the General option.
- Select the Reset option and tap Erase All Content and Settings.
- Confirm your action to completely wipe your iPhone storage.
This will completely wipe all the data and settings off your iPhone.
We’ve seen way too many cases of people getting blackmailed because they didn’t delete their data in a secure manner before selling their devices. The importance of keeping your data safe and deleting it permanently when the need arises cannot be undermined.
All of your sensitive and private data is still present on your devices when you press the delete button. So, it is extremely important to make sure that your data cannot be recovered and used against you.