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Secure Data Removal Tools

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Securely (Permanently) Deleting Data


UCSB faculty and staff who work with any form of restricted data need to be cautious even when deleting files from their computer workstations.  Generally speaking, the recycle or trash bins provided by most standard operating systems do not completely remove a file when they are emptied.  As a result, simply moving a file to the trash or recycle bin is not sufficient for deleting the restricted data.  Use the resources on this page to ensure restricted data is properly disposed of. 

Note that the list of tools below is not exhaustive, nor does it represent any endorsement by the OIT.   The tools are presented as a starting point for anyone who needs to securely dispose of their data, and the best tool will vary from situation to situation.  Users need to be abide by any local policies and procedures regarding software installation before installing any new software.  Check with the local IT support group for assistance.


IMPORTANT:  The tools listed below are presented in two categories, and by design completely destroy data on your hard disk.  There are tools for removing individual files or groups of files, and tools for completely overwriting a disk drive.  In either case, the data will be unrecoverable, so make sure that you are downloading the right tool for the task. Otherwise you may risk major damage to your entire filesystem.  


Windows Users

There are numerous free and commercial products that can provide secure deletion functionality for Windows operating systems.  In general, given the amount of free tools available online, there typically isn't a compelling reason to purchase software for this purpose alone. 


Tools for deleting individual groups (or single) files: 

Tools for completely erasing the contents of an entire hard disk:



Mac OS X Users


This functionality comes built in with OS X versions 10.4 and later.  See the screenshot below or use the Help feature and search for “secure empty”.



UNIX/Linux Users

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