Has Eraser deleted all my files? Completely???


New Member
I've restored my comp to factory condition for multiple times before. It was to burn system image and make recovery disks and prepare my comp for Dban but alas, Dban couldn't work at all. So with my comp being freshly returned to its factory's state, i ran Eraser (US Dod 3x), Ccleaner (1x), then Eraser again (British 1x) on my free space. Eraser seemed to work well, it completed completely each time with errors about system files, or how it can't delete clusters etc, which i didn't think really matter. Now i wouldn't have to ask this question if i had erased my files personally before my system restore, but i haven't. I didn't delete anything prior my system restores and i'm gonna hand over my comp to a shady computer whiz and i'm really worried that he or his friends might dig up my credit card info, my passwords file, my surfing habits or my gf's nude videos somehow. Call me paranoid, but you tell all your secrets to your comp and secrets are secrets for a reason.

Please tell me the truth and/or provide me some advice on how to eliminate everything if you know.
Fact: the best available evidence (see the link on the Eraser home page to the Wikipedia article on Data Remanence) is that even a single pass overwrite of data on any current (later than, say, 2000) hard drive is sufficient to make the data non-recoverable. So anything you overwrote is gone; I have done enough testing of Eraser to say that with a high level of confidence.

But did you overwrite everything? You re-installed the OS over unerased data, so fragments will remain in those pesky cluster tips. Whether the fragments could be assembled into something that could be used to your detriment is an open question, but given that
  • cluster tips are inaccessible through the file system, so any opponent would need to work with a sector editor;
  • the compromising data would need to be contained within a single cluster or less (sometimes much less) space;
you would be most unlucky to fall foul of this issue.

The best assurance you can have is to check for yourself. Install a good file recovery utility (Joel and I usually use Recuva, which is free and comes from the same stable as CCleaner), and see what it can identify. There may be loads of stuff or almost nothing; with the erasing method you used (I use it too), you may find that Recuva lists all of Eraser's erasing files. Chances are that, whatever Recuva finds will either not contain sensitive data or be irrecoverable, or both. In that case, you should be a happy bunny.

Of course, the very best security measure is not to let a shady computer whiz anywhere near a machine you have used ... :wink: