Download of the day: Eraser

Our daily pick of the best free Windows software – remove every trace of unwanted data from your hard drive

When you delete data from your PC, it isn’t immediately erased – Windows only removes references, and marks it as available to be overwritten. Until that happens, the data can be restored quite easily using specialist recovery software.

To completely remove sensitive information you need a program like Eraser, which permanently purges data by overwriting it multiple times using random data patterns.

Why you need it

Eraser helps you prevent personal information falling into the wrong hands. It can delete cached usernames and passwords, purge personal details that need to be erased to comply with the Data Protection Act, and wipe all data from a hard drive if you’re planning to sell it.

Key features

Military standard methods

Manual or scheduled tasks

Works with networked storage

Unlike some other programs of its type, Eraser not only lets you purge certain files or directories, it also lets you set up tasks for erasing content that you want to clear out regularly.

Simply pick the data to be erased, choose when the task should run (manually, immediately, when you restart your PC, or on a recurring basis), and give the task a name.

The recurring option is particularly useful for clearing out temporary files, cookies and caches. If there’s a particular type of file you’d like to keep, Eraser lets you specify exemption filters. 

If you've already deleted some files without a secure removal tool and think there might be traces left behind, you can use Eraser to securely wipe all ‘unused’ space so it's totally clear.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cat is TechRadar's downloads editor. She's been a tech journalist for six years on magazines including PC Plus, Official Windows, PC Format and Windows: Help & Advice (with a brief stint in PR for the nuclear industry in between). If you have a question about software, drop her a line!