When you delete files in Windows, they don’t actually go away—they’re just marked as deleted and moved to the Recycle Bin, where they stay until you empty it. This means that anyone with access to your computer can find them, even after you think you’ve deleted them for good. If you want to truly remove files from your computer, however, there are five easy steps to do so.
Confirm you want to remove a file
You should always take care when deleting files, especially if you want to make sure they’re gone for good. In Windows, there are a few ways to delete a file. The most common is to right-click on the file and select Delete. This method will send the file to the Recycle Bin, where it can be recovered if needed. To do a more permanent deletion, open File Explorer and go to your computer’s hard drive.
Double-click on C: (or whichever drive corresponds with your operating system) > Windows > System32 >drivers >etc >hosts>del . Be careful with the quotation marks around . as any text after that symbol won’t work if you put them inside the quotes.
Use erase instead of delete
When you delete a file, it isn’t actually gone from your computer. Even if you empty it from your recycle bin, the file still exists on your hard drive. To truly delete a file, you need to use a method called erasing. Erasing overwrites the file with random data so that it can never be recovered. Here’s how to do it
- Open Disk Management by typing diskmgmt.msc into the search bar or by going to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management
- In Disk Management, find the drive where your files are located and highlight it
- Right-click the highlighted area and select Erase
- A new window will open, showing all of the available options for erasing the disk (e.g., Fastest vs. Most Secure). You should generally choose one of these options rather than Do not erase, as this will overwrite everything on that disk including any other files on there
- Click OK when you’re ready to start erasing
Use Windows built-in tools
When you delete a file, it isn’t actually gone from your computer. It still exists on your hard drive, taking up space. If you want to completely remove a file from your system, you need to use a data destruction program. The best way to do this is by overwriting the file’s contents with random bytes. Eraser is one such program that allows you to choose how many times the original content should be overwritten before deletion.
Use third-party tools
If you’re using an SSD drive, you’ll want to take a few extra steps to make sure your deleted files are really gone. Solid state drives work differently than traditional hard drives, so simply deleting a file or even emptying your recycle bin might not be enough. Here’s how to securely delete files on an SSD drive The first step is to use CCleaner and then install Eraser.
Once Eraser is installed, launch it and select the wipe-free space option from the drop-down menu in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. After selecting this option, click OK at the bottom of the window. The program will then erase all empty space on your drive with 1 pass.
There’s also another way to do this that involves adding two commands into Command Prompt (found by right-clicking on Start at the bottom left of your screen). When you open Command Prompt, type: diskpart and hit enter.
Erase free space on SSD drives
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are becoming more popular, but there are some things you should know about how they work. One of the most important is that when you delete a file, it isn’t actually gone forever. The data is still there, it’s just that the computer no longer recognizes it as a file. That means that if someone were to look at your SSD drive, they could potentially see what files you’ve deleted.