Q:

How do you erase data from a hard drive?

A:

Quick Answer

To erase data from a hard drive, right-click on the files you wish to remove, and select the Delete option. To remove the files permanently, click on the files, and press Delete while holding down Shift. Alternatively, format the hard drive, or use a data removal utility, such as Eraser.

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Full Answer

If an error message appears while trying to delete the files manually, close all programs that might be using these files, and shut down the processes related to those programs via the task manager. Using the Delete option only moves the files to the Recycle Bin, which allows restoration of the deleted content in case you removed it accidentally. To remove the files from the hard drive, right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop or the Computer window, and select the Empty Recycle Bin option.

Using Eraser removes data from a hard drive in a way that makes it impossible to recover them via file recovery software. After starting the utility and selecting the New Task option, specify which files to remove, and select the desired erasure method. The downside of this utility is that it does not work on solid-state drives due to their wear-leveling algorithms. Formatting the hard drive via a Windows installation disc completely removes all data from a hard drive, including the system files. During the installation process, specify which hard drives to format by deleting all partitions and allocating new space.

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