Data Shredding Software

Dear Computer Lady,

I have a question for you about Data Shredding software.

When the program destroys the files, does it absolutely delete them? The reason I ask is that I have been told that there is advanced software that can still retreive the data, however most people do not have access to this special software. Can you please let me know which is true?

Thanks for all your great information. Melonie


Dear Melonie,

In order to understand how data shredding software works, you should first understand how data is stored on your hard drive.

Your hard drive contains disks that are coated with a magnetic coating. When you store data on your hard drive, it is stored in positive and negative charges on that magnetic coating, similar to how a cassette tape works. The exact location of the file is then recorded in an index file on the drive.

When you want to access your file, the computer looks at the index file, finds the location of your data and then accesses it.

When you delete a file on your computer, the actual file does not change, but the entry is taken out of the index file and the location where your data is stored is marked as available. Over time, as you save more information on your hard drive, your original data will be replaced with data from new files.

Data shredding software goes beyond just taking the file location out of the index file, it also goes to the actual file location and overwrites that location with random data. Some shredding programs overwrite the area just once, and other programs overwrite it multiple times. Usually overwriting the data three times will remove every trace of your files.

Now that you have an understanding of how data shredding works, I can easily answer your question.

If your data shredding software overwrites the data only one time, then yes, there is software out there that might be able to figure out what was on your computer. Make sure it is overwritten three times, and you can be pretty sure your data is gone.


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