You may sometimes want to make sure that data on a drive is deleted permanently. Permanently in this case means that it cannot be recovered with recovery software. Many computer users do not know that the data remains on the drive even if they delete it from the recycle bin. When it is out of their sight, they assume that it is gone completely.
The problem here is that this is not the case. The file itself remains on the drive, only file pointers are removed.. Experienced users could use file recovery software to get those files back easily. The chance of recovery drops with every writing activity on the hard drive the data is stored on though.
Using software to delete the file traces permanently is therefor essential if you want to give away your hard drive or computer, or if other users have access to it.
DriveScrubber 3 is a software for exactly that task. The program comes with three main modes of operation. It can wipe an entire hard disk, which basically deletes all data on the drive. This can be useful before the drive is sold, send in for repair or if the PC is handed out to someone else temporarily or permanently. It can also be handy if your PC has been infected or damaged by malicious software such as viruses.
Wiping the free space on the other hand deletes file traces on the drive's free space only. This ensures that file recovery software running on the computer cannot recover deleted data on that drive.
The Desktop File Incinerator finally integrates into Windows Explorer to delete individual files or folders on the system. It basically is an advanced version of the recycle bin that deletes files securely so that they cannot be recovered. The Incinerator feature needs to be enabled in the program option.
Wiping free space of a drive
A click on the start button launches the process. A list of all hard drives is displayed on the screen. The program does not detect solid state drives or warns the user that the process is not effective on those drives. That's something that the developers need to add to the program. For now, it is only possible to disable SSDs manually. A click on Analyze All displays a pie chart detailing the used space, unused free space and the unsafe deleted files.
Configuration options are displayed on the next screen. DriveScrubber users can run a normal or deep clean on the drive. A deep clean wipes all free space of the drive, a normal clean only locations where data has been stored in.
The advanced options display the wiping parameters. The program uses a DOD compliant technique for overwriting data. This can be changed to a custom pattern instead. The number of overwrite passes are customizable as well.
The default cleaning was very fast. It took only a few minutes to clean the free disk space of a 2 Terabyte drive. A test with the file recovery software Recuva afterwards confirmed that all data traces had been removed successfully by DriveScrubber.
DriveScrubber users can create a self booting CD (or floppy disk, no USB option) to run the program without having to boot into the operating system. That's useful if you cannot access the OS anymore, or if you want to wipe all data before you hand the PC over to someone else.
DriveScrubber 3 is compatible with all recent 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft operating systems. It supports all connection methods, including SATA, USB, SCSI and RAID.
I was skeptical at first, considering that free software like Eraser offers most of the functionality as well. Especially the performance of the wiping operation and the option to create a bootable disc to wipe drives directly make the program stand out.
The developers need to add SSD detection to the program, and options to create the bootable version on USB devices would be handy as well.
DriveScrubber regardless of that gets the thumbs up for its speed of operation.
We have been given twenty DriveScrubber licenses for this giveaway. Please leave a comment below for a chance to win a license.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.