Permadelete: remove files securely on Windows PCs
Permadelete is a new open source program for Microsoft Windows devices that you may use to remove files securely from the PC.
The delete operation on Windows does not really do what the majority of users expects it to do. Instead of removing the contents of a file and its reference from the system, delete simply removes the reference but leaves the contents on the disk.
The parts of the disk are set to write again, so that data may overwrite the deleted file eventually. Until that is the case though, file recovery tools may recover the deleted files completely or partially.
Not all of these programs work in the same way. Eraser for instance overwrites the free disk space so that deleted data cannot be restored anymore.
Update: The lead developer of Permadelete added information to the GitHub project repository as a result of our review. It explains core issues that we had with the program. First, the Internet connection on start is an update check. Second, for SSDs, files are merely deleted but not overwritten.
Permadelete is a new entry in the niche. It is an early version of an open source program for Windows. It does require Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5, needs to be installed, and tries to establish a connection on start which you may want to block as it is not clear why it does so (maybe update check).
The interface of Permadelete is compact. You may drag and drop files or folders to the interface to have them deleted securely, or use the shred files or shred folders icons instead to use a file browser for selecting files or folders.
The application displays an option during installation to add it to the "send to" menu of Explorer. You may use it to send files or folders directly from Explorer to Permadelete.
The program displays a security prompt whenever you drag something to the interface. You need to accept it by selecting "shred it" to start the secure deletion process.
There is nothing more to the program other than that right now. Permadelete overwrites the locations the dropped files or folders are stored on with random characters.
The program lacks any options, and what weights more heavily, returns no status information after the shredding. While it displays the "are you sure" prompt when you drop files to the interface, it does not return anything after the process completes.
Another issue that is not addressed right now is that it makes no distinction between platter-based hard drives and Solid State Drives. Secure delete tools don't work reliably with Solid State Drives, and programs like Permadelete should at least inform users about that when files or folders are dragged from SSDs.
Permadelete is a work in progress. It works considerably well for files stored on non-Solid State Drives, but could use feedback after the deletion process, and an option to turn off update checks.
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