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Read some of the stuff here regarding wiping disks and securely deleting files. From what I've understood, after deleting (not securely) files they become part of the unallocated(free) space of the HDD. So if I want to securely delete the deleted files should I wipe the free space only or by keeping this link in mind What's a good secure file deleter take image of the C drive and then wipe the entire drive and finally restore the image??

Disk: 500GB magnetic platter drive.

OS: Windows XP

Filesystem: NTFS

Please help

  • When you create a low-level image of the drive itself, the data in the sections which are marked as deleted will be part of that image. To create a clean copy without deleted files, you need to copy all files on the file-system level (copy&paste on the OS-level). – Philipp Apr 19 '14 at 12:51
  • For Windows, I use a tool called CCleaner to clean unwanted files, but it also has an option to wipe/overwrite free space on a disk. – Darius Apr 19 '14 at 22:52
  • @Philipp sorry I forgot to mention that I am doing normal backup(only used space) using Acronis True Image and not sector-by-sector backup(used + unallocated space). Can I still go ahead with the backup image, full disk wipe, restore image route?? – user45011 Apr 20 '14 at 3:10
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I would recommend you to use something like dban which is a bootable linux distro specialized for exactly that purpose. It might take some time to securely erase your disk.

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So if you are actually wanting to take an image of the harddrive and then delete it, I recommend using a forensic tool such as HELIX (an entire package) or FTK imager. Obviously, you need a harddrive of 500GB to place the image on. Helix is cool because it can be placed on a flash drive and you can boot into a linux distro right from the target computer. From here you can do both your transferring and then securely format entire volume(s).

btw, a true image of a hdd takes a long time with retail gear! (I once had to image a 40GB laptop using only my laptop and it took about a week)

Tools:

  • but the backed up image might contain remnants of the securely wiped data of the free space isn't it?? Sorry for such a late reply. – user45011 Apr 2 '15 at 4:14
  • Oh yes if you image something you are also getting the slack and unallocated space. Why would you want to restore an image that you took just prior to deleting? It would make no difference. By far the better option is to securely delete first and then restore a clean separate image (which is what I thought you were doing in the first place). – Matthew Peters Apr 2 '15 at 12:50
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I think this is the practical 'choice' you are asking for:

1) Clean and wipe free space with Bleachbit

http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/

2) Make a backup image with Acronis True Image

3) Boot and run Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) on target HHD drive (Not for SSD)

4) Restore with backup image. Done..

For me just step 1 is fine and I manually backup my important files as need be. Furthermore, I reinstall the OS periodically. I never bother with making a disk image that may contain hidden malware. Also, I don't like using DBAN as it puts wear on the drive and its effectiveness is questionable: http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/documentation/shred-files-wipe-disk

If you really want to be secure; physically destroy the drive. Launch it into the sun or throw it in an active volcano.

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