[Windows] Eraser is the best free program for securely deleting files and folders and wiping free hard drive space

erasHaving the utmost privacy on your Windows machine is a must. Heidi’s Eraser helps you keep your files private by ensuring they are permanently and securely deleted. With this program you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your personal data can’t be snooped and recovered once you have deleted it.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

Eraser allows you to securely delete files and folders (so files/folders cannot be recovered), and provides the ability writing over free space to securely clean previously deleted files.

Pros

  • Allows you to securely erase files and folders and wipe free hard drive space
  • Tons of secure erasing methods are supported, allowing you to pick whichever you want to use:
    • Gutman (35 pass)
    • US DoD 5220.22-M (7 pass)
    • RCMP TSSIT OPS-II (7 pass)
    • Schneier (7 pass)
    • German VSITR (7 pass)
    • US DoD 5220.22-M (3 pass)
    • British HMG ISS (3 pass)
    • US Air Force 5020 (3 pass)
    • US Army AR380-19 (3 pass)
    • Russian GOST P50739-95 (2 pass)
    • British HMG ISS (1 pass)
    • Pseudorandom Data (1 pass)
    • Fast/last 16KB Erasure
  • Has a built-in task scheduler that allows you to schedule secure deletion to automatically occur as a specified date/time. Tash scheduler even allows reoccurring events and events that happen upon computer reboot.
  • Works well, works fast, and has a no-frills interface without being ugly
  • Adds entry in right-click context menu for easy access
  • Can unlock locked files to be erased
  • Has a “plausble deniability” feature that allows you to rewrite erased files with other files

Cons

  • Options can be confusing to users without much technical knowledge. If you are confused, simply leave the program at default settings.
  • Adds itself to Windows Startup. There is no reason for a secure erasing tool to be always running, so why Eraser adds itself to always start automatically on Windows boot is beyond me. It should only automatically run when it has a scheduled task to do.
  • Hasn’t been updated in almost a year, so development might have stalled

Discussion

era2Privacy is and should be a major concern for anyone that uses any type of operating system. It does not matter what platform you’re on, you should always be concerned with where your data goes, and if it is protected. Eraser can help you with a bit of that problem. Eraser can easily write over the free space on your computer (where a file has recently been deleted) to make it so that you can no longer recover the files you deleted. It can also do something similar to the directories that Windows sends ‘recycled files’ to.

You see when you delete something, you don’t really delete it. You just remove the reference of it on the system. The file is eventually overwritten, and can not always be recovered. Unless you’re a wizard (or have downloaded Recuva and gotten lucky). Eraser has tons of erasing methods. Some are more advanced than others.

My favorite feature that Eraser has to offer up is the scheduler. I love that it’s built right in. I like that I can easily set up an erasing task and forget about it. I’m big on privacy on my machines but sometimes I have such a busy schedule that sometimes I don’t even have time to pay attention to stuff like this.

It is worth noting that a new user may or may not be able to pick up on something like this. Some of the options are a bit confusing, but with a bit of googling and reading documentation most new users will be fine. The user interface  is very fluid and I enjoy that fact. I like how everything is so well put together. Eraser is a great program.

I’ve used Eraser for a while now and it’s always been my tool of choice for the matter. There may be other programs that are similar to Eraser, but I just feel the most at home with Eraser. This is a very well put together program, and a program that I can not stop talking about. The fact that the only real problem I have with Eraser is the fact that it may or may not be confusing to new users is saying something.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

If you’re concerned about your privacy and you’re a Windows user, you really need to download Eraser. It’s one of the best programs in its category, and one that I use almost daily. Eraser is one of my all time favorite programs for Windows. I really cannot recommend it enough. In my opinion, it is, without a doubt, the best free secure erasing tool out there for Windows.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 6.0.10.2620

Supported OS: Windows XP and higher

Note: Windows 8 is not officially supported yet, but it is reported it still works on Windows 8 if run in compatibility mode

Download size: 8.7 MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/45

Is it portable? No

Eraser homepage

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10 comments

  1. DoktorThomas

    Gr8 program. Used for years. Install on every computer owned and on everyone else’s computer who asks for assistance with winOS problems.
    Note: One Samsung laptop running win7 objected (wouldn’t run properly) after installing v5.7 (my personal version preference), but had no problem with current version installed. Have no fear using Eraser. However whatever is erased is gone.

  2. Richard

    [@Godel]

    Yep, DBAN is a dead simple program to use. I know that certain companies don’t like to use it due to the authors not wanting to certify it for certain standards like UK/US DoD or US NIST, but that is down to them not wishing issue a guaranteed warranty for the software. Personally I would trust it over most other disk wiping software out there. Best to run it via a USB as opposed to disk for speed benefits. Haven’t tried HDDerase yet though, and I have a few old HDD’s around so may give it a test at the W/E. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Godel

    Actually these days anything more than a 1 pass erasure is unnecessary because the bits on a modern, high capacity HDD are so tightly packed in and vertically aligned. Even Gutman’s comment recommending a 3 pass erasure is now 17 years old.

    If anyone wants to TOTALLY erase an entire drive it’s best to use HDDerase which accesses a firmware routine in the drive itself, and overwrites everything including bad sectors which would be missed by an external program. I understand it’s also much faster than programs like Eraser or DBAN for this purpose.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDDerase

  4. Jimmy

    I notice it doesn’t say its for Windows 8 on their website. Crap, would have liked to have tried it. But, unless software maker websites specifically state for “Windows 8″ too, (since we are dealing with an entirely different OS here folks), I wont use it.

  5. Shawn

    Seems to be this line under the Run registry key that relaunches it on startup.

    “C:\PROGRA~1\Eraser\Eraser.exe” –atRestart

    Also I’ve just learned that testing a eraser software in a sandbox is a VERY dumb idea… lucky I had my storage temp to low on the box I had created … as it was cloning my harddrive :-(

  6. Shawn

    @Ashraf…

    Probably due to the “Freeware Methods” the makers of Eraser didn’t want to use the built in task manager.. but to make sure I’ve installed it on a test machine to monitor it’s actions on a network.. I personaly use Privazer when I want to nuke space or for a full drive I use dban… but theses days when I want to make sure that I have a non corrupted space on the drive just a batch file in dos that repeats the whole unicode table until the drive is full..this way I know I won’t end up with cross files (Working with 16 million patterns with imagemagick will seriously kill a drive)

    As for the Con issue no biggie even me I had to double check as it’s been ages since I had used eraser.

  7. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@Shawn] True but does it need to *always* run? I find Eraser is always on for no reason on my computer. It should only automatically run when it has a scheduled task to do.

    [@Shawn] #fail Ashraf. I added that Con and you are right — it is still under active development. I didn’t notice the Nightlys. Thanks, updated.

  8. Shawn

    Actualy check this out…

    (view changelog) Nightly Builds
    Build Name Revision Build Date Downloads
    Eraser 6.0
    Eraser 6.0.10.2728 r2728 28/6/12 7:06am 19147
    Eraser 6.0.10.2731 r2731 29/6/12 7:08pm 2319
    Eraser 6.0.10.2780 r2780 16/7/12 7:13pm 3307
    Eraser 6.2
    Eraser 6.1.0.2824 r2824 20/2/13 1:13pm 3782
    Eraser 6.1.0.2825 r2825 10/3/13 4:46pm 917
    Eraser 6.1.0.2826 r2826 14/3/13 10:30pm 1884

    Seems the last night build was on the 14th of March 2013