A couple months ago we wrote about a free utility called WipeFile that could securely delete files from your machine using one of 14 different methods. It was designed to give you some reassurance that once you removed a particular file or folder that there would be no getting it back. It was nice, but after that we received emails from a couple of you saying that you’ve been using a similar utility called Eraser. Naturally I had to check it out.
What makes Eraser superior? Well, the underlying idea of both apps are the same, and they both use similar erasing methods, but there is one feature in Eraser that really helps tip the scale for me: the scheduler. The screenshot above shows the interface in Eraser for scheduling file and folder deletion jobs. You can point it to any directory and/or file on your computer, tell it when you want it removed, and set it on its merry way. I personally find this useful because I can have the Recycle Bin securely emptied every time I start my computer. You can also tell it to just wipe the unused space on your hard drive, which will help eliminate the remnants of any files you had previously deleted without using Eraser.
For those of you nerdy types I thought you might be interested in seeing what methods Eraser offers for securely deleting files. Here they are from least secure (at the top) to most secure (at the bottom):
- First/last 16KB Erasure
- Pseudorandom Data (1 pass)
- British HMG IS5 (Baseline) (1 pass)
- Russian GOST P50739-95 (2 passes)
- US Army AR380-19 (3 passes)
- US Air Force 5020 (3 passes)
- British HMG IS5 (Enhanced) (3 passes)
- US DoD 5220.22-M (8-306./E) (3 passes)
- German VSITR (7 passes)
- Schneier 7 pass (7 passes)
- RCMP TSSIT OPS-II (7 passes)
- US DoD 522.22-M (8-306./E, C & E) (7 passes)
- Gutmann (35 passes)
Eraser also has one more trick up its sleeve. It integrates directly with Windows Explorer so that you can right-click on any file or folder and then securely delete it on-the-spot or when you restart the machine next. A feature like that can be a huge timesaver if you frequently use a utility like Eraser.
Eraser Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)