6 Tested Free Data Shredders to Erase Files & Folders Permanently

Are you still wondering if there are some quick ways to delete your private photos, videos and files confidential permanently from your PC or external devices (digital camera memory cards, USB flash drive, etc.) and make them unrecoverable?

Today I am going to share with you some totally free data shredders. You may already know that it is quite possible to recover files deleted (with Recuva for example) using soft-delete methods, such as emptying the bin or Shift+Del etc. As a matter of fact when you use similar methods to get rid of files, the real data are not erased permanently. That's why we say deletion is just another way to make things hidden.

Let us put it simple as to the reasons why. When you delete a file with common ways (wipe the recycle bin, Shift+del etc.), the real data contained in the file is still 100% intact there stored on the sectors of your storage media (If you are running PC it’s in the hard drive, if you are using external devices like USB, memory cards… same situation), those data are just marked as “deleted” temporarily. They are really deleted under condition that new saved data occupy their space, and technically speaking they get overwritten. So it is obviously only your deleted files are overwritten, they are erased permanently. Learn more from this Howtogeek article.

Another question – when will they get covered? Well, that depends on the storage volume of your hard drive or memory card etc. Sometimes it takes years while others may take months or even days. The more free volume out there, the less likely those data get deleted permanently. As a result, there comes no surprising if you hear someone successfully recovered files deleted years ago.

Thanks to those free data shredders, we can get things done much easier. Here are the top freeware that can help erase files or folders containing quite important information you don’t want for good. I have tested them all. Note: all the software below work under Windows based PCs. If you are on an Apple Mac machine, check out the Mac shredder software instead.


Free Data Shredder 1 – Freeeraser

This is the one I like most. After you installed the program and each time you start it, there will be an icon similar to your desktop Recycle Bin. But it is different from your bin. You can drag it to anywhere on your desktop and adjust the showing size by > right click the icon > Appearance >Icon Size > (Extra large, Large, Medium, Small, Extra Small). As to how to shred your files or folders, cannot be more simple. Just drag the objects you don’t want to this second “Recycle Bin” and hit “Continue”, they will be gone  forever.

Best for: General Personal Users


Free Data Shredder 2 – Eraser

This one is most powerful and professional data eraser. You can set a task even a schedule to shred those files, folders, unused disks and items sleeping on your Recycle Bin. Take care! Besides files and folders, this utility can also wipe your disk and clean the files on your bin. Furthermore, there are thirteen file erasure methods (default method: Gutmann 35 passes) for your choices. I can’t see any reason why this one cannot be the best of best for technical users.

Best for: Companies especially involved in security field.

Free Data Shredder 3 – File Shredder V2.0


No 3 is also great. “ It is free for both personal and commercial use” declared on its official website. So any one can use it to shred any files, folders or even wipe the disk you want to donate etc for FREE. Moreover, the Settings let you to do erasure very flexiably. 5 secure shredding algorithms for users’ option and the default is “DoD 5220-22.M”.

Suitable for: any PC users

Free Data Shredder 4 – Evidence Nuker (no longer available)


This file shredder tool is a little bit different from the others. It’s more like a privacy clean utility than a shredder. You can use it to scan the evidence (document history, search history, cookies, cache, website history etc.) you left behind while net surfing. And clean them forever by choosing one of the 4 levels.

Best for: Those who surf the net in public computers or who care about their footprints.

Free Data Shredder 5 – ZillaSoft Data Shredder

ZillaSoft Data Shredder is able to shred files, folders, Recycle Bin, and erase entire drive and most specially Restore Points with built-in scheduler. Speaking from the data security angle, I don’t recommend the Restored Points shredding. But speaking from the software function part, it gives users one more choice and that’s not bad thing anyway but you'd better take care with this special function. Note: using OS X? This article explains how to erase Mac the easy way.

Best for: General Users


Free Data Shredder 6 – Data Sweeper Pro

Compared with other shredders, Data Sweeper Pro is a pure file shredder which only shreds file by file, not supporting folders or even drive and not too much GUI. It reminds me of the old program design style. As to the merit of this program – you can choose the overwrite times from the right button field. There more times you select, the less likelihood the shredded files be recovered.

Best for: users who need to shred single files.

Okay, these are the 6 data shredders I have tested one by one. Any other free file wipers or erasers out there? Let me know in the comments.

2 comments:

  1. i have a quick question will these work in a Virtual machine i have windows running on my mac in a virtual machine and i need to complete delete a virus file which keep coming back.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A PC user that search a good file shredderAugust 27, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    There is a problem with "Free Data Shredder 4 – Evidence Nuker": it it recognized to be a malicious programm by Kaspersky... That's said, now it is your own risk to install such a programm...

    ReplyDelete