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How to Securely Erase Private Data

Contents

How to Set Up and Use Eraser

CAUTION: Reading the following instructions carelessly could cause you to disable your system and / or lose data you want to keep. So be sure to read them carefully.

Set Up Eraser

Previous: E-Mail

Index.dat Files

The more you do in Windows, the bigger your index.dat files become. Index.dat files grow bigger and bigger every time you use the programs they're related to, as more and more history of your activities is added to them.

But because they're in use when Windows is running and you're logged into a user account, Windows locks them, probably to maintain stability and prevent corruption. This keeps you from erasing them, so you need to erase them some other way. The following are some ways to do that.

Note: Only the index.dat files of the currently logged on user are locked when Windows is running.

So if you have one or more user accounts (you should create a Limited User account for secure online use) Eraser can - if you're logged on to an administrator account - erase all the index.dat files of a different user account than the one you're currently logged on to, without shutting down or rebooting.

It can also erase all the index.dat files in the numbered Content.IE5 subfolders of the currently logged on account. The only index.dat files it can't erase are the ones located in the main Content.IE5 folders - not their subfolders - of the currently logged on account (each Content.IE5 folder has one).

WARNING: Because the currently logged on user's index.dat files are locked when Windows is running, the claim made by software makers that their software is able to delete, clear or erase them when Windows is running is false, unless achieved by Microsoft's technique to delete - not securely erase - the contents of the files without erasing the files themselves.

Unless they're erased from a different user's account, at shutdown or when Windows isn't running, index.dat files won't even be deleted, let alone securely erased. So I strongly recommend securely erasing them with one of the following methods instead.

The easiest and most secure way to securely erase all the locked index.dat files in the user account you're logged into is to run a batch file at logoff or shutdown that executes a list of eraserl or eraserd commands telling Eraser to erase the contents of the folders containing index.dat files.

If you prefer, you may have the batch file erase individual index.dat files instead.


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