Free Secure Delete Utilities: Blowfish vs. Eraser

Sometimes, you need to make sure that a file you’ve deleted is really gone. I use about 7-8 different computers in a typical week, and on all of them I use utilities that do daily secure wipes of all free space.

Fortunately, there are some very good freeware apps to accomplish this.

For the most part, I use Blowfish Advanced CS, which integrates Bruce Schneier’s famous encryption algorithm (featured once on 24). Fro my experience Blowfish Advance CS has a very small footprint and is very fast.

Recently a friend pointed me to Eraser which does nothing but secure delete. I installed it and tested it out, but it seemed significantly slower than Blowfish Advance CS. On the other hand, it had two features that Blowfish Advance CS doesn’t — a) the option to create a boot disk and securely wipe a boot drive, and b) a built-in scheduler to run unattended secure wipes on a regular basis.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t want to risk someone recovering deleted data from any of the PCs I use. Neither of these programs really guarantees data cannot be recovered, but regular use certainly raises the cost of recovering any deleted data to prohibitive levels. That’s good enough for me.

Jon Udell on Silly Privacy Screwups

InfoWorld’s Jon Udell writes about the the silly security holes that can exist when people obsess about forms and internal data security and don’t take a step back to look at a system as a whole.

In the example he writes about, Udell is able to gather a lot of information about people who go to the same YMCA he does because the ID bar code scanner displays the account record of the last person who used it. So he describes being able to tell his wife, the name, age, etc. of the woman who just went out the door of the YMCA before him.

I had something similar to that happen when I took my grandmother to the doctor several months ago. The front office had a typical u-shaped desk. When you were done seeing the doctor, signs direct you to one side of the desk to make a follow-up appointment. There were several people waiting to make appointments, so there was a small line starting at the front of the u-shaped desk and extending backwards toward the examination rooms.

Which meant I had a clear view of the receptionist’s 20″ monitor and knew that the women at the front of the line had been there to see the doctor about her breast cancer. So much for HIPAA!


Sidestepping the analog hole. Jon Udell, InfoWorld, March 1, 2006.