Four Open Source File Shredders That Delete Data Forever

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 20, 2009

If you're deleting miscellaneous unimportant files on your computer, simply dropping them in the trash or deleting them ought to be sufficient. If you need to permanently and irrevocably erase files to keep them from ever being resurrected, however, then you need a reliable file shredder. Here are four of the best open source applications to try.

Eraser - This tool for Windows removes data from your hard drive by overwriting it with patterns that make files unreadable. It works with any hard drive that work with Windows and even erases files and folders that were previously deleted. Eraser also has a scheduler so you can automatically erase files on a regular basis.

File Shredder - This nifty tool has five different shredding options from Get Rid Of This all the way You'll Never Recover This File Again No Matter What. File Shredder even has a disk wiper that wipes unused disk space.

Autoclave - A common method of overwriting hard drives for privacy is zero filling. It's not a foolproof method, however, and easy to do incorrectly. Autoclave can zero out your hard drive in just a few clicks and make your data permanently disappear. The developer is sure the tool will erase everything forever and not even the National Security Agency and it's million-dollar technology could access it. "But," he says, "if that's who you're worried about reading your data, it's probably best if you pound the drive into dust using a sledge hammer, and then fuse the pieces together with a blowtorch."

Darik's Boot and Nuke - Here's a self-contained boot disk that automatically completely delete the contents of any hard drive it detects. Once you use this app, your data is forever cooked, so be careful with it. DBAN is a great tool for wiping the contents of a computer you're selling or as a way to ensure you've eradicated all viruses and spyware before doing a clean OS install.