Simple guide to deleting internet content with Eraser!!

I've just downloaded Eraser and have read the entire help section, but it didn't help me with what I need to know. I want to use Eraser to make sure ALL internet content such as cookies and temporary internet files are completely unrecoverable even by an expert . I only go on perfectly normal websites and forums but I'm a very private person and don't want my family (who are by the way, very good with computers) to see what I go on, I may also be selling my PC in a few months to come so I don't want some nosey computer whizz reading everything I've ever been on.

However I'm worried about deleting anything on the harddrive such as documents being deleted by accident, as I'm a very new computer user. I was hoping someone could give me a very simple guide on how to delete every trace of internet content off my computer. I want to delete the following:

Temporary internet files
Cookies
History
Browser cache
Internet file attachments
Email attachments
Web client/Publisher files (I've tried to do this using disk clean, but they won't delete)
Index.dat files (I just need to know firstly what index.dat files are, and are they safe to delete??

Please note- I'm using CCleaner to delete current temp internet files, the files I'm wanting to erase are ones which I've deleted in the past just by clicking delete files in internet explorer. I've heard that if you do this it doesn't completely delete the file, the file still remains on your harddrive, I want to completely erase my computer of old files and anything else that could be used to trace my internet activity. If anyone knows of any other forms of stored internet content please tell me.

Anyway basically what I need is for someone who has used eraser to do this to talk me through how you can locate deleted files such as history, temp internet, browser cache etc. I've now idea how to find them, I understand that eraser works by drag and drop with the files. If someone could give me a step by step guide that would be great, please don't talk too technical as I'm not very good with PC's. I just want to make sure my harddrive is fully cleared of all internet data and that no one, not even expensive software can recover it.

I also want to delete temp program files, I've tried doing this through disk clean but it doesn't work, would you recommend doing this in safe mode?? Will it effect any programs if I do delete these??

Also I'm using CCleaner to delete current files, will this ensure that current files arn't left on my harddrive for all to see ??

I would be hugely grateful if anyone can help me, :D I just want to be able to go to bed at night not worrying about family reading everything I go on. :oops: :(

If you don't want to reply in the thread, please pm me with instructions. :D
 

nodrick

New Member
I`m a liitle bit puzzled by your query! You seem to imply that the content of your hard drive is entirely normal,but then go on to mention that you don`t want anyone to trace your internet actitvity,or use expensive recovery soft ware on your HDD! May I respectfully suggest,that if your HDD contains entirely innocent material, a little paranoia is creeping in here.Forgive me,but if in fact the reverse is true,the operating system Windows,leaves so many traces of activity spread over your HDD,that I don`t realistically rate your chances of removing them all! As you seem to be deleting(in fact, marking that space as available for use again by Windows) most of the material you mention,I would suggest a good starting point would be to follow this up with an "Erase unused space" wipe of say 3 overwrite passes, on your main drive. This can usually be arrived at by right clicking on the drive in question-Disc "C" for example,and will render virtually unrecoverable any previous deletions. How to sanitize your HDD prior to disposal of a computer has been mentioned in these august columns before.
 
Sorry, I know may post may seem a little puzzling. Yes the content on my harddrive is innocent but I do go on forums to talk to other people about general things such as music, film etc. However I would much rather my family or anyone else for that matter not be tracking my activity, it may be innocent but it's still personal.

I know it may not be possible to get rid of everything, but even getting rid of most of it would be better than nothing.

If anyone can help me out, please do, I'm sorry if my post came across as a little bit confusing.
 

Kythe

Member
nodrick said:
I`m a liitle bit puzzled by your query! You seem to imply that the content of your hard drive is entirely normal,but then go on to mention that you don`t want anyone to trace your internet actitvity,or use expensive recovery soft ware on your HDD! May I respectfully suggest,that if your HDD contains entirely innocent material, a little paranoia is creeping in here.Forgive me,but if in fact the reverse is true,the operating system Windows,leaves so many traces of activity spread over your HDD,that I don`t realistically rate your chances of removing them all! As you seem to be deleting(in fact, marking that space as available for use again by Windows) most of the material you mention,I would suggest a good starting point would be to follow this up with an "Erase unused space" wipe of say 3 overwrite passes, on your main drive. This can usually be arrived at by right clicking on the drive in question-Disc "C" for example,and will render virtually unrecoverable any previous deletions. How to sanitize your HDD prior to disposal of a computer has been mentioned in these august columns before.
This actually doesn't seem that off-base for me. Perhaps this is a person who occasionally looks at legal porn, but doesn't want that fact known. Maybe he or she engages in political activity that wouldn't be appreciated by his or her associates or co-workers. Maybe we're talking about looking at or participating in stuff critical of his company (again, completely legal) but not stuff that he or she wants out there.

There are many possibilities of potential retribution for legal activity, and the old canard, "if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide" has been shown many times over the years to be bogus. In fact, that's one of the reasons for the existence of programs like Eraser.
 

Kythe

Member
There are ways to wipe all of the items you mention. If I may say so, you'd be better off using Firefox and an email client like Thunderbird or Eudora, rather than Internet Explorer and Outlook. The first two leave a lot less crap lying around.

At least one of the items you mention (index.dat files) can be difficult to delete while normally logged in to Windows, mainly because Windows protects these files.

However, I've found that this protection may not still be in force once you actually run Internet Explorer. If you then try to delete these files or clear the Internet History/Cache (before you logoff, that is), this action seems to clear the index.dat files, too.

Regardless, if you have Windows XP Pro, you can set up a shutdown or logoff script that will use eraser to wipe all the things you mention. You may also be able to do the same thing using a script run from your "startup" start menu folder if you have Windows XP Home.

If you want to see examples of doing what I'm talking about here, check out this thread:

How I use Eraser -- logoff and shutdown scripts
 
Thanks for the link. :)

As I've already mentioned it is only old files I want to erase, if I click erase unused disk space will that make old content almost completely unrecoverable. I want to try and get rid of as much as possible. Also what effects will this have on the harddrive, if any? I just wondered whether by doing this it stops you being able to download things such as new programs or files to the harddrive.

Any ideas??
 

Kythe

Member
Techno phobia said:
Thanks for the link. :)

As I've already mentioned it is only old files I want to erase, if I click erase unused disk space will that make old content almost completely unrecoverable. I want to try and get rid of as much as possible. Also what effects will this have on the harddrive, if any? I just wondered whether by doing this it stops you being able to download things such as new programs or files to the harddrive.

Any ideas??
If you've already deleted the files, then clearing unused disk space will wipe the leftover data beyond the ability of any software recovery program to find. In fact, this process will generally wipe the data more securely than simply wiping the files alone (delete, then wipe all free space), since it will also wipe any deleted temporary files.

Doing so should do no damage to your harddrive, nor will it prevent the downloading or installing of new data. Does this answer your question?
 
Yes thanks. The only thing is in the past I've deleted the files just by going to internet options and delete files, I've done the same with history and cookies. Will this still ensure that they're unrecoverable, or will this only work if I've deleted the files using a program like eraser or ccleaner??

My only other questions is, can you change the amount of passes, eraser is automatically set to 35 passes a file, when I downloaded it, is that too much?? If so how can I change it?

Thanks again :)
 

Kythe

Member
Techno phobia said:
Yes thanks. The only thing is in the past I've deleted the files just by going to internet options and delete files, I've done the same with history and cookies. Will this still ensure that they're unrecoverable, or will this only work if I've deleted the files using a program like eraser or ccleaner??
To the best of my knowledge, doing as you say doesn't wipe the data, it merely deletes the files. You'd need to wipe unused space to eliminate the data from the deleted files still stored on the drive.

My only other questions is, can you change the amount of passes, eraser is automatically set to 35 passes a file, when I downloaded it, is that too much?? If so how can I change it?

Thanks again :)
Yes to both, for the most part. Even a single pass should be more than sufficient, unless you've really done something to make organizations with serious resources take an interest in you--in which case, I wouldn't trust wiping to fully eliminate the data, anyway. And really, if that were the case, you'd likely be screwed anyway, as your ISP could be subpoenaed for records, etc.

Eraser comes with four erase options: the 35-pass Gutmann, the 7-pass DoD, the 3-pass DoD and the one-pass pseudorandom. You can select which one you want to run using the "options" button/menu.
 
Kythe said:
However, I've found that this protection may not still be in force once you actually run Internet Explorer. If you then try to delete these files or clear the Internet History/Cache (before you logoff, that is), this action seems to clear the index.dat files, too.

When you say "run" internet explorer, do you mean drag it over to eraser, right click and then click run. Or are you talking about something completely different??

By the way sorry to bother you again.
 

Kythe

Member
By "running" Internet Explorer, what I mean is activating or opening it (e.g. using it to surf to a web site), then closing it.

My tests indicated on my system that once I did this, I was able to clear the Index.dat files by clearing history and cookies in Internet Options in the control panel before rebooting my system.

If I tried to clear "history" and "cookies" BEFORE I had opened and closed Internet Explorer, doing so left the Index.dat files untouched, even though it erased the other files in Internet Explorer's cache and cookies folders.

This may not be the case in systems other than Windows XP.

By the way, you'll also need to clear the "User Assist" entries in the registry, as these tend to keep a record of where you've surfed, as well. You can do so using Spybot S/D to scan for and clear "Usage Tracks".

If you don't have and use Spybot S/D, I highly recommend it, as it not only can clear usage tracks but it's also an excellent spyware/adware eliminator (its primary purpose, actually) and can be used to clear old and useless junk from your registry:

http://www.safer-networking.org/en/spybotsd/index.html
 
Hello, back again. :wink:

I've now run erase unused disk space on my main drives and am planning on running spybot whenever I can get round to it. Just have to annoy you with a few more questions first. :oops:

1. How do you delete history/cookies through the control panel

2. You said there are ways of erasing all the content I mentioned, is it possible for someone to give me a quick tutorial or a link to information on how to erase all the info.

3. Are there any scans available which can bring up content such as web client/publisher files and swap files so I can erase them??

4. How often do I have to erase unused disk space to keep my privacy??

5. Once I've deleted all the content I mentioned with eraser or spybot will it be almost impossible for someone without expensive software to track my activity (I'm not talking about the FBI here, just people who are computer wizards.

6. Does Spybot delete ALL traces of internet content (cookies/user assist) in the registry??

Sorry about all the questions, thanks for all your help so far. :)
 
Just bumping up to see if anyone can answer my questions, sorry to be a pain. :oops: :wink:
 

GHall

New Member
How often, expensive software

I cannot speak for spybot and if it actually erases all internet content or not.

To delete internet history/cookie from the control panel. Open the Control Panel, double click Internet Options, click on the General Tab. Delete what you want from here.

If you want to completely remove ALL data from your Hard Drive (as if you were going to sell the computer) then I suggest using DBAN. It will remove all previous files, Windows,all programs, etc... nearly EVERYTHING on your hard drive. Keep in mind that it removes so much that you will not be able to boot the machine back up once it has started. Don't play with this program if you are not sure about what you are doing.

As for worrying about the expensive recovery software, don't. A single overwrite will defeat even the best file recovery software. At this point all you have to worry about, as you put it, is the FBI.

I cannot answer your other questions... I simply do not have any experience with these pieces of software.
 

Kythe

Member
GHall's right about ways to delete all the content you mention.

Spybot will delete all the content, too, if you direct it to delete "usage tracks". It's a default option when you run a Spybot scan.

Note my comments in earlier posts, though, about clearing the index.dat files. Spybot may not eliminate all the index.dat files unless you first activate (run) Internet Explorer and then run Spybot before rebooting.
 
Thanks for both your replies. :D

I've deleted user assist and usage tracks using spybot. I just want to know will clearing "usage tracks" get rid of all contents (swap files,browser cache etc) on the entire computer or is it just content from the registry??!

When erased unused disc space some of the files failed to be erased, firstly, does anyone know why this is?? And secondly is there anything I can do to enable them to erase?? Similarly does erasing unused disc space get rid of all of other content such as swap files, browser cache, cookies or is this strictly temporary internet files it will remove data of.

Lastly some of my temporary internet files and ~tmp. files will not delete. The ones in the main folder will but there are other ones which can be viewed through disc clean. They're mainly notepad files, often quite large and sometimes with images. I've tried deleting them using disc clean, but that doesn't work!! I've also tried killbox, that got rid of a few but not all. I've no idea why this is, these files arn't used by my computer for anything (not as far as I'm aware anyway). :? Do you reckon they may delete in safe mode???

As I said earlier, it's not the FBI I'm worrying about here. But in the past I've had people who are computer wizards take away the computer to fix it if it's got a virus or something. I've often worried whether they'll be having a look what I go on, the content is normal BUT it's still personal and I don't like the thought of someone I don't really know reading through my past emails and looking at files. I know it's unlikely that they'd go looking for files , but you never know, there are some really nosey people out there!! :shock: And there's family members to consider too.
 

Kythe

Member
Techno phobia said:
Thanks for both your replies. :D

I've deleted user assist and usage tracks using spybot. I just want to know will clearing "usage tracks" get rid of all contents (swap files,browser cache etc) on the entire computer or is it just content from the registry??!
In my experience, Spybot will delete tracking registry entries, log files and other tracking files on the disk, including cookies and cache files. It normally doesn't eliminate your system swap (page) file. Eraser can be used to do this on shutdown, by the way.

As an aside, one of the reasons I use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer is that I think it's easier to get rid of tracking information with Firefox (not having to worry about the index.dat files when it comes to web surfing). I still wipe the index.dat files on shutdown, though, to get rid of useage history in Windows Explorer (e.g. files opened, created, manipulated or deleted on disk), so I suppose I'm not really saving myself much trouble.

When erased unused disc space some of the files failed to be erased, firstly, does anyone know why this is?? And secondly is there anything I can do to enable them to erase?? Similarly does erasing unused disc space get rid of all of other content such as swap files, browser cache, cookies or is this strictly temporary internet files it will remove data of.
I assume you're referring to the report after the unused space erasing is done, noting that the cluster tips of certain files couldn't be cleared? That's basically because the files are in use by the system and are locked. On the bright side, that probably means no extra information could be copied by applications into the cluster tips, so there's probably no information there that needs to be cleared, anyway.

If you do want to clear the cluster tips anyway, you could do a couple of things:
1) Boot into another account (e.g. Administrator) and do the clearing, which will clear the cluster tips of certain files that would normally be locked when you boot into your regular account, like the user registry files. This won't let you clear all of them, but it will let you clear the cluster tips of some files that you couldn't normally clear.
2) Boot from a CD-ROM, and run eraser to clear the unused disk space then. Creating a bootable CD-ROM can take some time, though you may be able to download a bootable CD-ROM image. The other option is to use your Windows CD-ROM to boot, then run Eraser off the disk. Either way, this should free all the system files on disk and let you do a complete free space wipe.

Your last question: clearing usused disk space does just what it sounds like: it wipes disk space currently marked as "unused". It WON'T delete any files (at least, it better not...). But it will erase old data left behind when files were normally deleted, including cache files, temporary files or just about any other file. To save time, the system simply doesn't wipe the contents of files in the normal course of deletion. It simply marks the disk area as "unused" and marks the directory entry of the file as "deleted". Eraser takes the extra step and wipes all of this "unused" disk space clean.

Lastly some of my temporary internet files and ~tmp. files will not delete. The ones in the main folder will but there are other ones which can be viewed through disc clean. They're mainly notepad files, often quite large and sometimes with images. I've tried deleting them using disc clean, but that doesn't work!! I've also tried killbox, that got rid of a few but not all. I've no idea why this is, these files arn't used by my computer for anything (not as far as I'm aware anyway). :? Do you reckon they may delete in safe mode???
The temporary files may actually be in use. If they're not wiping or deleting, then the system (or some program running) has them locked. You may need to reboot, or log out and log back in, before you can eliminate them. Safe mode is certainly worth a try, too. Also, if it seems like you have some temp files that you just can't delete (and you're sure that you can safely get rid of them), you could try running Scandisk to make sure your file system is healthy.

The other option (I'm not familiar with Disk Clean) is that you're actually looking at already deleted files. Is it possible that Disk Clean is showing recently deleted file entries that haven't yet been wiped?

To tell you the truth, Windows is a terribly messy system, and so is the NTFS filesystem. Things you think are gone are frequently not, and there are log entries upon log entries. That's why I like programs like Spybot and why I run freespace wiping, to make sure there's no hidden data lurking somewhere I forgot to check.

As I said earlier, it's not the FBI I'm worrying about here. But in the past I've had people who are computer wizards take away the computer to fix it if it's got a virus or something. I've often worried whether they'll be having a look what I go on, the content is normal BUT it's still personal and I don't like the thought of someone I don't really know reading through my past emails and looking at files. I know it's unlikely that they'd go looking for files , but you never know, there are some really nosey people out there!! :shock: And there's family members to consider too.
Not only do I run Eraser to wipe just about every temp, history and cache file on shutdown, I standardly run Spybot S&D, MRU Blaster (a little old, but still pretty viable) and a full free-space wipe on every shutdown, too. And for good measure, I use Truecrypt to encrypt my entire user partition, and Cryptoswap Guerilla to encrypt the page file.

I'm not worried about the FBI, either, and my wife has the passwords to my computer. But I have no interest in a thief (or anyone else) getting access to my private data without my permission.
 

Glenn

Member
Two freeware cleaners that may be of interest: CleanCache and CCleaner

I've used both. Each has advantages and disadvantages. If nothing else each offers information on their site regarding the files you may want to wipe.
 

nodrick

New Member
I do feel that the purchase of an application like Window Washer might well fill the bill in this case.It is reputed to make a good fist of all the tasks required of it,with the possible exception of wiping disc free space.However,Eraser is well able to complete that task,as most of us know.
See: http://www.webroot.com/consumer/product ... tures.html
Might it not be $29.95 well spent? I`ve been using the application,in it`s various versions,for some years now. I`m in no way trying to negate the excellent advice so far given-just maybe adding a "belt and braces" approach!
 
Thanks for your replies, I may consider investing in software in the future, so thanks for the recommendation. :)

Basically once I've erased the following:

Erased unused disc space
Eraser or deleted index.dat files after opening and closing IE.
Erased swap files on shutdown
Deleted remaining temporary files in disc clean (assuming I find a way of deleting them).
Deleted usage & search assistant tracks with spybot
Deleted email attachments
Cleared cluster tips whilst in a different mode

Once I've done all that can I be more or sure that no one will find any of my internet content on the computer (i.e (the computer engineer, or just a very clever PC wizard)??

Last few questions, will files deleted in the recycle bin be cleared by erasing unused space??

How can I locate web client/publisher files in order to delete??

Is there anything I should run in order to be sure that content can't be found via journal viewer??

Thanks very much once again. :D
 
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