Erasing pictures



i take alot of "personal" pics of my GF. then i put them onto the HD, then burn them over to a CD, then erase the pics left on my HD with a 35-pass. a friend of mine told me that Eraser is very good at erasing many things, but that it cannot erase pictures well, because pictures are "magnetically burned" onto the HD (i really don't remember exactly how he phrased, but that's not really the point). i told him that's he's wrong and Eraser can erase any files, jpg's, mpg's, txt's, it doesnt matter. so my question is, is he right about this at all? are the pics of my GF that i erase still left behind on my HD?
:!: Well,I guess if you use a 35 pass wipe to erase,most any file would be rendered unreadable-but Garrett is the man to confirm this as correct. I imagine the only other more secure way,is to grind the disc to powder,and scatter in a remote area of your choice! Anyway,if as you imply,the pictures are not illegal-just "private",who is likely to persue the matter beyond needing a basic erase, with just a few passes?
Guest said:
i told him that's he's wrong and Eraser can erase any files, jpg's, mpg's, txt's, it doesnt matter.
You are correct, it does not matter what kind of data is stored in a file, or what extension the file has. There is nothing special in picture files.
why are files still identified on recovery tools?

I regularly clean up using Eraser, but noticed while trying out a file recovery programme that just by searching on file names that I had erased, they still show up! what is going on?? is there no real way to remove ALL traces of files?
1. Eraser will arase any file type no matter what it contains.

2. Traces:
Do you defragment your HD?
Modify the files often? e.g msword will create a backup while you edit.

no, I never defragment my hd. but why should this matter or stop eraser erasing all traces?
When your computer is defragmented data is scattered all over the disc. If you defragment your hard drive before using Eraser you could overwrite some of these pictures with Windows files or other software files in your copy of Windows. (Not the best way to remove them as far as security goes.) So you should use Eraser to erase free space before you defragment and then afterwards. I am sure others can explain this more clearly for you here. Why don't you defragment your hard drive? There is no harm in doing so as long as you run Scan Disk or (Check Disk in Windows 2000 and XP.) To run a "standard" Check Disk you right-click your C:\ drive, choose "Properties," "Tools," "Check Now," check the top box that says "Automatically fix file system errors" click "Start," "Yes" and then restart your computer. If you use Eraser to erase cluster tips I would always run Scan Disk or Check Disk first. (Question: Why run Scan Disk or Check Disk before using Eraser to wipe free space and cluster tips?)
>>Question: Why run Scan Disk or Check Disk before using Eraser to >>wipe free space and cluster tips?)

Lost clusters will be found and fixed. Allowing you to delete these from the drive root or in some cases the fixed cluster will be marked as free

Garrett is quite correct lost clusters do need to be fixed before Eraser ( or defrag ) is run. However ther is another HD error that can cause problems if scandisk is not run before Eraser ( or defrag) , I'm not shure what it is called but it causes errors in the 'free space map' on the hard drive , thus confuseing windows as to what is free / in use / or Free total.


A friend's computer had this error , and according to windows these were the properties of the drive.

Used = 4.5 Gigs
Free = 10.7 Gigs
Capacity = 6.5 Gigs

I told him to run scandisk ASAP and the results were ..

Used = 4.5 Gigs
Free = 2 Gigs
Capacity = 6.5 Gigs
I have a similar problem to above...I have run eraser on free space on drive C and then run file recovery software (file rescue) and whilst no other deleted files are found, image files are still on the drive and recoverable. What can I do to purge these? Is it just a case of defragging over and over and hoping for the best?

Thanks if you can help
When you did a 'free space' was there a list of untouchable directories?
Are these files in one or more of those untouchable directories?
If Yes the there is little that can be done at these point because there are always directories that Windows denies access to (locks), mainly 1) The Windows install directory - ex. C:\windows\... 2) ANY directory that has files that are 'in use'.

If you need to erase files from a untouchable directory I have found that sometimes 'right-click' erase works on a file , even when the directory is considered untouchable and 'free space erase' can't touch the free space.
erasing images

There are a list unerasable files...but the recoverable images are not in them as these images have already been deleted. Windows cannot see them but File Rescue can!
Well, can File Rescue recover those files or not? Better yet, can you still view the images? Perhaps you just see the filenames, or simply names of the shortcuts to the deleted files from your Recent Documents folder?

Oh, and erasing the unused disk space successfully overwrites remnants of files that were in a so-called "untouchable" directory. The contents are gone, only the filename cannot be erased. And this applies only if you are using a FAT file system.

Again, you should have no problems erasing any unlocked file from any directory, whether or not the directory is in use. And erasing unused disk space will overwrite all deleted files. Even if you can recover the filename afterwards, the file itself is gone.
Wiped or not?

Maybe an application of forensic capabilties in both finding and overwriting confidential files is needed? Such might be "Directory Snoop":

or for low level examining of your hard drive,a demo copy of "Encase",a law enforcement forensic utility,can be useful-if you can find one!
To be honest, there's no real safe way of removing data from a hard drive unless you physically destroy the hard drive correctly. If those pictures of your girlfriend are erased from your drive using Peter Gutmann's 35 pass method then your pretty safe. Your friend is right about data being burned into the disk though. To erase that burned data you need to overwrite that section of data x amount of times before it is unreadable. The Gutmann method destroys magnetic media. If you like you can read a little more about it here: ... e_del.html

p.s - Your be ok with even a 7 pass method - I doubt anyone is going to come along and use forensic tools on your computer.
Actually, with modern high density hard drives, a couple of passes with random data makes previous data just about as difficult to recover as it can get. Using the 35 pass method described by Dr. Gutmann is hardly necessary these days. You must remember the article was written 8 years ago when hard drive technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now. And it has been 7 years since this overwriting method was added to Eraser. Perhaps the program should finally have another default overwriting method?

Anyway, as companies continue to develop drives with even higher recording densities, the more difficult it is to recover any data after it has been overwritten, even once. Of course, people who actually care about their privacy use encryption in the first place.
So no data recoverable then?

If as you say,a 35 pass Gutmann overwrite is not necessary with a modern high density magnetic HD coating,and just a few passes suffices,does that mean that the technically sophisticated criminal or terrorist can feel safe using modern computers,and with just a few passes of the disc wiper to remove compromising data?
I would appreciate it if the word "terrorist" was removed from the dictionary altogether, it's way overused, not to mention completely unnecessary in almost any discussion, this one included.

But to answer your question; it's true that you and the criminals next door can feel a lot safer when overwriting data on a modern hard drive. It's probable that the results are better when the recording density is higher.

Let me quote Dr. Gutmann on this (


In the time since this paper was published, some people have treated the 35-pass overwrite technique described in it more as a kind of voodoo incantation to banish evil spirits than the result of a technical analysis of drive encoding techniques. As a result, they advocate applying the voodoo to PRML and EPRML drives even though it will have no more effect than a simple scrubbing with random data. In fact performing the full 35-pass overwrite is pointless for any drive since it targets a blend of scenarios involving all types of (normally-used) encoding technology, which covers everything back to 30+-year-old MFM methods (if you don't understand that statement, re-read the paper). If you're using a drive which uses encoding technology X, you only need to perform the passes specific to X, and you never need to perform all 35 passes. For any modern PRML/EPRML drive, a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do. As the paper says, "A good scrubbing with random data will do about as well as can be expected". This was true in 1996, and is still true now.
Well,I feel that your remark on my reference to the word terrorist,is patronising to the extreme,especially as you have no knowledge of my beliefs or ideals.Remember,that one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.I gratefully,however, take the rest of your remarks onboard-and I don`t think I have any"criminals next door",or not as far as I know!
Best wshes anyway!

This sounds like a dismal scenario. I read over the article quickly. It appears to go against all that ERASER claims to do. Question: Does Eraser really overwrite everything except protected files? Swap files too? (I dont quite know what a swap file is exactly, but everyone talks about them). How can I know that Eraser really worked? Is there a way to test an overwrite? And last but not least, Does Version 57 (the one I have) overwrite 7 times or 35 times? How do I know? Thx for any ideas