First Use Shock


New Member
Hi. This is my first post on here.

What follows is not really a complaint, or even a request for help. It is just an account, for the information of the forum, of what Eraser seemed to do the first time I ran it; it was very frightening at the time. If any other users have experienced the same thing, or have any suggestions as to what may have caused it, I would appreciate it. Apologies in advance for excessive word-count.

Well, I downloaded and installed Eraser yesterday and, after reading the integral help file I set it to work erasing the free space on my C: drive.

As I expected, progress was fairly slow because there was about 12GB of free space showing on the properties pie-chart for this drive.

After about three hours the 'cluster tips' progress bar was only showing four blocks across, so I imagined I was in for at least as long again.

It was at about this point that I opened my MS Outlook program to add something to a journal entry. (I use the journal component of an old version of Outlook to record a diary.)

Anyway, I opened Outlook, double-clicked on the journal entry I wanted to add text to, and to my astonishment it was completely blank! I was sure I'd already written in that entry, and I was flummoxed for a while. I then opened another entry, and I found that this too was completely blank. Every other journal entry I opened was the same. I've been keeping this diary now for about six years, so it was an awful lot of words that had gone missing... :shock:

I then began noticing other anomalies.

When I tried opening any MS Word document, for example, it refused to open and simply displayed an error message 'Insufficient disc space or memory available' (That was approximately what the message said; by this time my head wasn't thinking very straight, and I can't remember the exact wording.)

The default fonts on both my Internet browser (Firefox) and my email client (Thunderbird) were both different to how they had been earlier in the day.

And the 12GB of free space on my C: drive was now showing as a much increased 26GB.

By now, of course, I was doing three things: Firstly I was panicking, because I thought I'd lost ALL my data, secondly it was dawning on me that Eraser was still running, and that it's operation, my missing data, and the sudden increase in free space on the drive were surely not a complete coincidence, and thirdly I was bitterly regretting not having backed-up my stuff before running it. :cry:

The first thing I did was stop the Erase process by clicking on the red button. But what to do to try and recover all my lost data? I tried doing a System Restore, (I don't know why; it wasn't logical for data retrieval anyway), but there were now no restore points available to me.

I was trying to come to terms with losing all my data, desperately looking for a silver lining. 'Well, it will be a fresh start...' etc.

But, if Eraser was wiping everything at random, how come it didn't seem to have affected Windows itself? Apart from the apparent removal of all my restore points, I was getting no indication of Windows having been affected; no system error messages at all.

As a final 'It's a long shot, but it may just work' attempt, I decided to re-boot my computer.

Imagine my utter relief then when, after re-booting, all my documents magically opened correctly with all their text intact. :lol:
My data had never been erased by Eraser at all, but it didn't half give me a fright!

I am running 32bit Windows XP Media Center Edition with SP3 on a Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop with an Intel Core 2 T5500 @ 1.66GHz and 1GB of RAM. The version of Eraser I downloaded was 5.86.1

Since the alarming episode I describe above, my computer has been running perfectly and all my data seems intact. (I've not checked absolutely all of it, of course, but I haven't noticed anything amiss.) The free space on my C: drive is still showing as 26GB, and I rather think my computer has speeded up a bit.

I'm off to do a full and complete back-up now, before I run Eraser again though...
I make it a practice to do freespace wipes only when (a) I am not going to be using the computer for anything else and (b) only after I shut down all non-essential running processes in TaskManager.

The purpose of that is two-fold:

Closing all un-necessary running processes allows more to be "erased", since more files are not "in-use" or "locked" by the system ( from the "Help" - "Locked Files

An executable file cannot be accessed when it is running, the same goes for shared dynamic link libraries and all files that are opened without file sharing allowed. The cluster tip area of these files may contain sensitive data the same way as the unused area in any other file, but it cannot be overwritten because the file is locked.

To reduce the amount of these locked files into a minimum, you should close as many applications as possible before erasing the unused disk space. Closing the applications will also free memory allowing the operating system to reduce the size of the paging file making more free space available for overwriting.

The files loaded in memory by the operating system, such as the system libraries, cannot be accessed at all while the computer is running. The cluster tip area of these files may contain sensitive information, but it is not very probable because these files are locked all the time." )


You don't experience the kinds of problems that you did, since you're not trying to use the computer while Eraser's running. (That's why it has a "Scheduler" feature).