How to Permanently Delete Computer Files

By Christopher Kennedy

The Recycle Bin is used as a catch-all for a computer's deleted files. Once the you decide you no longer need the files, you empty your Recycle Bin and assume that the files are permanently deleted. However, that file and many others can easily be recovered several ways, using simple procedures. With two simple keystrokes, you can bypass the Recycle Bin altogether and delete files so they are just difficult to recover, or you can use special software and erase them past recovery.

Permanently Deleting Files

Step 1

Browse to and select the file you want to delete.

Step 2

Hold "Shift," then press "Delete."

Step 3

Select "Yes" in the dialog box that pops up, to confirm your request to permanently delete the file.

Deleting Files Past Recovery

Step 1

Download and install the "Eraser" program. Choose the "Typical" install option.

Step 2

Click the "Run Eraser" check box, then click "Finish."

Step 3

Click the arrow next to "Erase Schedule" and select "New Task."

Step 4

Click the "Add Data" button. From this window, you can delete a file past recovery. Select "Recycle Bin" to delete files that have been or are still there. Choose your option and select "OK" on both windows.

Step 5

Right click on the added task in the "Eraser" window and click "Run Now" to begin the deletion process.

Tips & Warnings

  • Files deleted by standard deletion methods can be retrieved using data recovery techniques. You must use specialized software to delete those files past recovery.
  • Be certain that you no longer need the file you are about to delete, as you cannot recover it if you use a permanent data erasing program.