There are many tools that can overwrite and delete your sensitive files so that they become virtually irrecoverable. These file shredders can overwrite your files many times using random data, rename your files many times and finally delete them. But not many of them also remove the file entry from the master file table (MFT) of the NTFS formatted drives. Without removing this entry, anyone using a file recovery tool will still be able to see the filename of the files that were deleted.
For example, after I securely deleted some of my files using Recuva, it still showed them in the list of the discovered deleted files. When I tried to overwrite them again, it showed a message – “Not overwritten – File is resident in the MFT”. This means that the file data has been overwritten but the file entry is still present in the MFT.
File shredding is incomplete without erasing the filenames from the MFT. Here is how you can clean the MFT and remove the names of all the deleted files:
- Download and install CCleaner on your Windows PC. In the CCleaner options, enable Wipe MFT Free Space.
- In CCleaner, go to Tools and then Drive Wiper. From the options select to wipe Free Space Only, select security to Simple Overwrite and then choose the drive that you want to clean the MFT from. Finally click on the Wipe button.
- It will start wiping the free space from the selected drives and along with the free space, it will also wipe the MFT of these drives. It might take many minutes before the process is finished.
CCleaner takes a long time to clean the MFT table because it is also overwriting the free space. If you want to just wipe the MFT and nothing else then you can use another tool called Prevent Recovery. This tool is also for overwriting the free space on your hard drives, but it allows you to clean just the MFT without having to overwrite the free space. This makes Prevent Recovery tool way faster than CCleaner.