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Leave a cold trail

If you think just throwing a document in your electronic trash gets rid of it, here is your wake-up call.

You put a file in your Windows recycle bin, you empty the bin, and the file’s gone forever, right? Right–and then the tooth fairy leaves a quarter on your keyboard.

The storage volume on your computer can be your worst enemy if you cycle through sensitive documents on a regular basis. Although the layperson can no longer easily access deleted Windows files, that doesn’t mean others can’t. About three-quarters of the files that you delete can be reconstructed, which means that when you sell or otherwise dispose of an old PC, a savvy operator could get access to your files.

If you want delete to really mean gone forever, look into O&O’s SafeErase 2.0. It securely erases files with a proprietary process in which the program integrates itself into the context menu by the same method as the conventional Delete command. In short, SafeErase overwrites files with gibberish so many times that it’s impossible to find the original file data. Depending on which level of security you choose, the process can take up to a half-hour per file.

Among the new features in the updated SafeErase are the TotalErase Assistant, which–whoosh!–deletes all your system data, including the system partition. The program also lets you overwrite open disk space on your individual hard-disk partitions.

Be aware that SafeErase works only on local PCs–it can’t delete network data. Also, if you have the opposite problem–a deleted file you desperately want back–try O&O’s UnErase.

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