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File Cleaning


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#1
Fumbler

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Does anyone know of a way to remove all traces of deleted files?

I have tried many programs, from Norton onwards (Eraser, Secure Clean, R-WipeClean, CyberScrub, BestCrypt, to name most). All claim to do this. However, when I then re-run Recover My Files, lo and behold, there are all my old erased files available. :tazz:

I'm told that only a low-level format of my hdd will do this - something I'm reluctant to do 'cos (a) it's a lot of work re-installing everything; (b) it may not work! Having been given lots of assurances by several companies that thair product will do exactly what I require and then finding that this is not so, I am beginning to suspect that there isn't anyway of doing what so many claim to do. These programs presumably do an equivalent to a low-level format in some areas (like the free space), but I'm finding that files are still recoverable there too. ;)

The worrying thing is that all of these programs are supposedly authorised by various authorities as meeting data protection regs - and they don't. This despite they saying that each of their program work OK under WXP (some with the proviso that all other programs are switched off). :)
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#2
Retired Tech

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I have Tune-Up which has shredder, with a folder called shred to which everything is sent, and then to the shredder, nothing goes to the recycle bin, I can find no record of the files on the hard drive.

You can get a trial version here

http://www.tune-up.com

It won't be able to do anything about files you have already deleted
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#3
Fumbler

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Thanks for that Keith. But, as you note, that doesn't really address my problem. (Tune-Up is a good program - I use it too).

I've never found shredding really practical - I rarely remember to shred a particular file (tho' I acknowledge I should), and when it comes to cut&paste, shredding isn't possible.

There will always be some traces left around (WXP notoriously keeps track of everything in various ways, and that appears to be part of where the file traces are coming from - they are in a different form to what I have used them, but there they are!).
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#4
bdlt

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I'm not sure how ntfs handles file deletion, but FAT16 files used one bit in the file access table(FAT) to indicate that a file existed. a file could be recovered by changing the bit from 0 to 1, or deleted by changing the bit from 1 to 0. the pieces of the file were never removed during deletion. only after a file was 'deleted' and another file was saved were the pieces overwritten.

here's an experiment you might try. copy a very large file to the drive, then rerun tuneup to see if any of the previous files have disappeared. the idea is to use the space that was freed when the files in question were deleted. the large file may have to be copied several times to overwrite the pieces left by the old files. when you are done with the experiment, delete the large file(s) and then remove the large file(s) from the recycle bin to restore the free disk space.
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#5
Fumbler

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Thanks bdlt for the suggestion. But even if that worked, it wouldn't help me.

Recover My Files finds 40,000+ deleted and erased files, but which are recoverable - even after I've scrubbed/wiped/cleaned/deleted/erased/etc by half-a-dozen programs now.

I really need something that will totally erase all traces of all deleted files - one at a time just won't do it.
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#6
bdlt

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the idea was to overwrite unallocated disk space.

now I'm really curious. if you are unwilling to experiment, that's ok. I wonder how many of the 40000 files would disappear if you overwrote, say 500mb or 1gb. are you curious? I know this is not a solution - it is just an experiment.
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#7
Fumbler

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Thanks for the encouragement to experiment bdlt. But I may not have made myself too clear.

I have already, by using several commercial programs (not to mention defrag, Norton optimisation, etc), over-written the free-space many times - to no avail. Even if the free-space is genuinely cleared, I still have the problem of recoverable traces from elsewhere - so I want a solution to the whole problem.

Plus programs such as Recover My Files are presumably picking up erased files by getting at interwoven data not used within blocks of memory by new files.

But whatever it is: (a) there are tens of thousands of these recoverable files; (b) I've already supposedly scrubbed all the free space many times; © Recover My Files (and, presumably, many other similar programs) can still recover erased files - in defiance of the claims of cleaning programs and the requirements of data protection laws.

So tho' I apreciate your persistence, I really don't see the point of repeating an activity that seems inferior to what the commercial programs are doing (yes, I realise they hype things up, but my watching of what's going on and their good standing with official bodies give me confidence that they are at least doing better than what you suggest).
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#8
matt_fleming

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To my knowledge your safest, and most secure bet is overwriting the drive.. repeatedly. I think 7 times is the number heard most.


Found this at 2000trainers.com

'Two popular tools commonly used to scrub drives are Drive Scrubber from iolo technologies and Eraser, a free tool that can be downloaded from www.heidi.ie.
Because Eraser is freeware and one of the most popular tools available, it’s definitely worth a closer look. Eraser includes a tool to securely scrub hard drives using a bootable floppy disk (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) as well as a Windows utility that allows you to securely delete files or scrub free space on your existing partitions.'

-Matt

Edited by matt_fleming, 28 July 2005 - 08:21 AM.

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#9
Fumbler

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Thanks Matt.

I had used Eraser (my first choice in fact; I'd used it for years; hence I was horrified to find that after it I could still recover files!), but hadn't noticed the option to run if from a floppy - so that might work on my other computer.

Alas, with the march of technology, my new laptop comes .... without a floppy! But perhaps I can get Eraser to work from a CD. Definately worth a try - as everything else has failed so far.
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#10
bdlt

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warning - the following is for the adventuresome, only.
has anyone else experienced what Fumbler has observed with deleted files?
here's a way to write ones & zeroes to a hard drive using dos. curious?

below is some dos code and attached are 2 files 1kb in size each. one is filled with ones, the other is filled with zeroes. the dos code is designed to increase the size of a file, then show the unused disk space. repeat until the drive is nearly full. try to avoid completely filling the hard drive(that is the adventure). for best results close all programs and run from dos.

once the hard drive is almost filled, then delete the files and rerun the recovery program to see how many files remain. if files are deleted using explore, then empty the recycle bin.

have fun.

rem increaseOnes.bat
copy ones.txt+ones.txt ones.bbb
copy ones.bbb+ones.bbb ones.txt
dir

rem increaseZeroes.bat
copy zeroes.txt+zeroes.txt zeroes.bbb
copy zeroes.bbb+zeroes.bbb zeroes.txt
dir

Attached Files


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#11
Fumbler

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Thank you for the idea, but this may be above my KQ (and maybe IQ)grade.

Do these programs seek out the unused bits within a file block (that is, from the end of the file up to the end of the block), and then fill it up with first ones and then zeros, leaving the original file unchanged?

And would this be done one file at a time?

Regards, Fumbler
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#12
bdlt

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the idea is to copy ones/zeroes into unused bytes on the hard drive. remnants of previously deleted files are in partially filled clusters. the idea is to fill most of the free clusters completely with ones/zeroes. when the bat file is run, files are copied to the drive until the drive is nearly completely filled. when these files are deleted, only the ones/zeroes remain in the newly freed space, thus removing the remnants of unwanted files.

if you want a step by step procedure, just ask. it would be useful to know how much free space there is on the drive.
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#13
Fumbler

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Sorry; I'm still confused I'm afraid, bdlt.

No, I don't want to have a step-by-step proc; that'd be just too time consuming.

What I'm not sure about is whether your proposed solution is for cleaning everything off the whole of a partition/drive (which isn't what I'm after - I can do that, but that's too drastic to do on a regular basis).

Or is able to hop along the whole partition, going through every file until it finds the end of file marker and then filling in the intervening space between that and the end of the block with zeros and ones.

I fear that what I've just explained is not what your program would do - or else why would you have issued the warning about not filling the hdd up?

Kind regards, Ian
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#14
bdlt

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Ian,

you seem to have a good understanding here.

What I'm not sure about is whether your proposed solution is for cleaning everything off the whole of a partition/drive (which isn't what I'm after - I can do that, but that's too drastic to do on a regular basis).


this would be a one time major overwrite. assumption - there are 40000 fragmented file remnants on the drive. the idea is to fill these with ones/zeroes. how many bytes need to be filled? it could be close to the original size of the 40000 files, if these were small files(20kb). let's start with overwriting 500mb, then go from there.

Or is able to hop along the whole partition, going through every file until it finds the end of file marker and then filling in the intervening space between that and the end of the block with zeros and ones.


we would let windows do all of the work finding the unused fragments. hopefully windows does this in an orderly fashion - reusing the same sectors over and over in a copy/delete cycle.

I fear that what I've just explained is not what your program would do - or else why would you have issued the warning about not filling the hdd up?


what the dos files do is create a very large file from a small one. this way the attached file is only 1 kb instead of many mb.

if overwriting 500 mb is successful(say only 30000 files are then found), then we could try 1 or 2 gb. a convenient way to repeat the 500 mb process is to burn a large file created(using the bat file) to a cd, then repeatedly copy it to the hard drive.

here's a general procedure:
run recovery program - get file count
create a large file
copy to cd
copy repeatedly from cd to hard drive
run recovery program - get file count
frown or applaud

note: repeating the bat file 9 times results in a 246mb file.

make more sense?

john
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