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How to Securely Erase Private Data

Contents

Crucial Steps You Need To Take Before Typical After-Work Erasing With Eraser

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

Previous Step: Encrypt Registry or Erase, Then Disable AutoComplete in Internet Explorer and / or Alternative Browser

Encrypt Registry or Erase, Then Disable MRUs

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WARNING: Windows and many software programs keep track of your recent activities in very revealing logs called MRU (most recently used) lists, which even include shortcuts to recently viewed or edited files, mainly to make your work experience quicker and more convenient.

As with AutoComplete data, MRU lists are stored in the Windows Registry files, and erasing those files makes Windows unusable, so you have two options. You can delete the MRUs' registry keys, but that leaves your private data available for easy recovery and viewing.

I recommend the safer option: erase the registry files and restore sanitized backup copies with RegBack1 or RegBack2, a set of batch files. (Remember to update your registry backup when you install or remove applications!)

  1. Encrypt your Windows partition (fairly secure) or your whole hard drive (more secure), or delete your AutoComplete data with Internet Explorer, an alternative browser or one of these free cleaners and your MRU (most recently used) lists for Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer and third-party applications with Spybot, Ad-Aware or MRU-Blaster.
  2. Back up your sanitized registry.
  3. Erase your swap or page file (Windows recreates it on startup) and system.dat and user.dat files and restore your sanitized registry with RegBack1 or RegBack2 (I recommend RegBack2).
  4. Disable MRU lists with security templates, group policy or the following registry hack. And check your software programs for such a feature or setting. If they don't have one, and you don't have security templates or group policy, find and remove their MRU lists often. skip

Before deleting MRU registry keys or doing the registry hack to stop Windows from logging your recent activities, a word of warning...

WARNING: Carelessness and honest mistakes in editing the registry can mess up, if not completely disable, your system. So pay attention and back up the registry before editing it, and if your data is on the same partition as Windows (not recommended), back up your data too.

Note:

The Registry Hack to Disable Windows' MRU Lists:

  1. At Start > Run, enter regedit and click OK.
  2. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\
    Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Comdlg32.
  3. Create a subkey and name it NoFileMru, of type REG_DWORD, if it isn't listed.
  4. Set the DWORD value to 1.
  5. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  6. Create a subkey and name it NoRecentDocsMenu, of type REG_DWORD, if it isn't listed.
  7. Set the DWORD value to 1. (You can set it instead to clear the Recent Documents folder at shutdown if you wish (ClearRecentDocsOnExit), but it won't be secure.)
  8. Close the editor.


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