Learn how to use the Cipher command included with Windows XP or as a download to completely erase deleted files.
You just deleted a few sensitive files from your computer and you emptied your recycle bin. You assume those files are gone right? No, they are still there. The only thing that’s gone is the first letter of the file name. Deleted files can easily be recovered with the right tools. This guide shows you how to use the cipher command (included in Windows XP) to write over empty space or deleted data three times so that no one can recover those files.
What Is Cipher?
Cipher is a utility that comes with Windows XP that writes over free space on your hard drive three times to make sure no one can recover files you’ve deleted. This is a great tool to use when you get rid of a PC to make sure no one gets there hands on your stuff.
If you have a version of Windows that was released before Windows XP you can download Cipher from Microsoft.
How Do I Use Cipher?
The first thing you need to do is open the command prompt (DOS). Click start, run, type cmd in the run box, then press enter on your keyboard. You should have a black window open now.
Type cipher /w:C:\ in the command window and press enter on your keyboard. This will write over all the free space on your C:\ drive three times.
You can substitute the C:\ in the cipher command to another drive or a path to a particular folder. An example of this is: cipher /w:C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents\.
For a very detailed how-to on the cipher command, check out Microsoft’s Cipher Documentation.
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