Common Eraser Questions: read this before posting

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This post is intended to point users to the answers to questions that come up time and again on the forum. Please read this first before either searching further or posting on the forum; that way you save yourself time and trouble.

If you just want to get to know Eraser 6, please read the companion thread to this one.

If you want to know about the design and architecture of Eraser 6, and in particular why it is different from Eraser 5, read this thread.

If your problem relates to Eraser 5, please note that this is no longer a supported release, though it will run satisfactorily under Windows XP. Version 6 works in Windows XP SP3 onwards. For Windows Me/98 and earlier, use version 5.7, which can be downloaded from the Eraser files page on SourceForge. If you wish to post questions about Version 5, the help we can offer may be limited.

Note also, that, as of the most recent updating of this post, the current stable release is If you are a normal user, please use this release; it has fixed problems in earlier releases (including some of those described in this post), and later development builds may not be stable.

If you are having problems with a 6.1 release of Eraser, the best course is usually to fully uninstall the 6.1 build, reboot and download and install Eraser 6.0.10. However the install will fail unless you delete the Task List (see the next but one paragraph for details) before reinstalling.

Other issues in installing Eraser 6.0.10 should be reported on the forum, unless the guidance in this thread solves the problem. Experience so far indicates that 6.0.10. installs correctly on most systems, and that any failures relate to system specific problems.

If Eraser is installed correctly, but crashes on startup, the commonest cause is a problem with the Task List. Normally, this is fixed by deleting the task list file (location in Windows 7 and Vista %LOCALAPPDATA%\Eraser 6\Task List.ersx; in XP it is %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Eraser6\Task List.ersx) and then re-starting Eraser. Sometimes, you need to uninstall Eraser (particularly if it is a 6.1/6.2 build), delete the Task list and the the registry keys (HKCU\Software\Eraser), reboot and reinstall.

Cases do arise where it is necessary to open the Registry Editor, search for all entries (keys or, where appropriate, values within a key) containing the word 'Eraser', and delete those keys or values manually. This procedure is recommended only for those who are familiar with the Registry Editor, and who understand the risks of using it; inept use can make your computer inoperable.

If crashes recur after deleting the Task List, particularly if Eraser works for a while after deleting the Task List, then crashes again, try running a disk check on your hard drive(s). Not surprisingly, Eraser is sensitive to errors in the file system.

Eraser has also been known to fail on startup with an error message relating to the 'side by side configuration'. This indicates that there is a problem with the runtime files used by Eraser; a suggested fix is in this thread.

If you get messages in Eraser telling you that an invalid file erasure method was selected and/or you discover that the default erasure method settings are blank, you probably need to update the Root Certificates on your machine; this should be done automatically in Windows Update, but it has been known to fail. See this thread.

If you get a message telling you that you need to run Eraser as Administrator (aka run 'elevated') or that 'you do not have the required permissions' to run the task, see this thread for guidance. The commonest problem in these circumstances is that users do not exit the running instance of Eraser (by right-clicking on the small icon in the System Tray and selecting 'Exit Eraser') before starting the program as Administrator. Occasionally, a drive or folder will just not have the correct permissions for Eraser to operate, and you will need to change those permissions; in that case, see the first post dated 2nd March 2011 in the thread referred to in this paragraph for advice on how to check for this problem and correct it.

If the Eraser Tray Icon does not appear, it may well still be present, even though not visible. The following procedure applies to Windows 7. If you click on the tiny upwards pointing triangle on the left of the tray, a small window appears with icons that are not visible in the tray. The Eraser icon (which is a miniature version of the desktop icon) may appear here. If it doesn't, click on the 'Customize' link in the window, and you will see options for each icon; for Eraser you will need 'show icon and notifications' to be set. And if the icon is still invisible, open the Eraser program from the desktop and the Start Menu, and the icon should appear.

If you want to know how to make safe a computer or drive you are disposing of, this thread provides some guidance.

If you are having problems erasing the contents of the Recycle Bin (in particular, there seem to be files that refuse to be erased), please see this thread.

If drag and drop is not working, this may well be because because Eraser is running as an administrator. You need to exit and restart Eraser to do drag and drop. UAC prevents dragging from a program with lower privilege to a program with higher privilege.

If in Eraser 6.0.x, a dialog is truncated or items are missing from it, this is very likely a problem with the screen fonts. The fix is to upgrade to 6.0.10.

Some users dislike the fact that Eraser starts a running process with a system tray icon on Windows startup. This is a built-in design feature of Eraser 6. However, the facility to disable this feature will be an option in the next version of Eraser 6, as it was in Eraser 5. The running process will however need to be enabled for any scheduled tasks. The process usually consumes relatively little by way of system resources, so my advice is to leave it alone. Experienced users can however use the Windows utility msconfig.exe to prevent Eraser from starting with Windows; the running process will then only start when Eraser is invoked; once started, it will continue running until the system tray icon menu is used to exit Eraser. The running process is, of course, required for any tasks that are scheduled to run at particular times.

Some users (particularly former users of Eraser 5) are concerned that there are no visible process dialogs. They are there (in a different and less detailed form), but hidden by default. The reasons are explained in this thread.

Some users are uncertain about what a free space wipe actually does. The answer is that the wipe does not touch anything on the computer that has not been deleted; it simply over-writes all free space on the drive, including the space (and directory entries) occupied by previously deleted files. If you want to be sure that a file is securely deleted, either use Eraser to erase it expressly, or run a free space wipe on the drive after you have deleted the file. If the file is in the Recycle Bin, use Eraser to erase the contents of the Bin.

Some users are concerned because Eraser takes a long time to erase free space on a drive. This is normal: see this thread.

If you find that Eraser crashes at or near the end of a free space wipe, you should know that this is a recognised (and complex) problem which has been largely resolved in the most recent releases of Eraser 6. The problem typically manifests itself as a Windows 'Disk Full' or 'Eraser has stopped working' error message. Usually with current versions of Eraser, the wipe has completed when this happens, but the temporary folder(s) and files Eraser uses to wipe the free space are often not deleted, so you will need to check that the expected amount of free space remains on the drive. To recover any lost space, see the next paragraph. If you are using Eraser 6.0.10, and have this problem, please report it on the forum; users of older versions are advised to upgrade.

If you find that, after a free space wipe, some or all of the free space on the drive has been 'lost', see this thread, and delete (there is no need to erase) the temporary files that are causing the problem. One user has usefully described the process in the following terms.

In Windows XP, right click on Start, left click on Explore, go to My Computer, then to Local Disk (C:) and examine the list of folders under Local disk (C:). In my case, I found 23 folders of which 5 folders had long alpha-numeric names (e.g., 88b90193b680d6b59d). Of the 5 folders only one folder was very large (over 200GB) and equal to the "free space" that I had lost. This large folder contained numerous files with random file names consisting of letters numbers and symbols (i.e., ?, $. %, etc.). This is the folder to delete (Just right click on the folder and left click on Delete). The other 4 folders with long alpha-numeric names were very small (ranging in size from 712KB to 1.03MB), contained sub-folders with normal names (i.e., amd64, i386 and update) and their names did not contain any random symbols (i.e., ?, $. %, etc.) only letters and numbers. Do not delete these folders.

The description relates to Windows XP, but the procedure is the same for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Finally, please read Eraser Help, which is in the form of a PDF manual. The text has a good contents page, with a full set of links, so it is reasonably easy to find what you need.

I update this post from time to time (most recently on 8 June 2012), to cover the more common questions on the forum. I hope it is helpful.

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