When you delete a file from your Windows PC, it is not deleted completely even if you remove it from the Recycle Bin. Advanced users with proper software tools can easily recover the files from such a computer. So if you are planning to give away your old computer make sure you have erased all your private files completely. A free software called Prevent Restore can help you erase all the files completely from your hard disk. It searches your hard disk for any deleted files and overwrites them with random data, making them totally unrecoverable by any file recovery program.
The Prevent Restore program can be downloaded from the Privacy Root software website. The downloaded file is a setup installer of less than 1 MB in size, but during the installation it downloads more files from the internet. This program is written using the .NET 3.5 framework and so you need to install Microsoft .NET 3.5 redistributable on your Windows PC prior to running it.
The program runs in a wizard mode in four steps. In each of the steps, you have to choose some options and proceed. In the first step, you have to select the target disk drive that you want to process and get rid of all the deleted files and folders. After selecting a disk drive, click on the Continue button to proceed.
In the second step, you have to select the overwriting method. In the free version, you can choose to overwrite with space only. Other methods of overwriting (random characters, random digits, Peter Gutmann, DoD and GOST) are available only in the paid version. You can also decide whether you want to wipe the unused free space.
In the third step, you can choose advanced options like deleting the paging file, emptying the recycle bin, saving a report of the activities and so on. If you decide to delete the paging file, Windows would delete this file every time you shutdown your PC and shutdown would take more time than usual. So it is better that you leave paging file alone.
In the final step, after confirmation of overwriting the deleted files, you can click on the Start! button to begin the process of getting rid of all the deleted files. A progress bar would show you the whole process and what is happening. After the process is finished, you can shutdown Windows. Actually the Prevent Restore application has an option to automatically shutdown Windows after it has finished its work.
So if you want to give away your PC to someone, then make sure you get rid of all the sensitive information on it first. Simply deleting the files does not delete the files completely so you may seek the help of the free Prevent Restore program to remove all the remnants of the deleted files and folders from your system.
You can download Prevent Restore from http://privacyroot.com.