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Q: best options for permanently erasing information from a computer harddrive ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: best options for permanently erasing information from a computer harddrive
Category: Computers > Security
Asked by: richardjahillary-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 25 May 2006 14:30 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2006 14:30 PDT
Question ID: 732399
I'm looking for the best way to permanently erase potentially
incriminating emails or documents from a computer harddrive and/or the
internet.  That is, let's say--hypothetically--that an employee has
been using his company laptop to engage in a correspondence with a
rival company.  Said employee is about to jump ship to this company,
but has to turn in his company laptop when he leaves.  FORMATTING THE
HARDDRIVE is not an option, and although all documents have been
erased and the harddrive defragged, there might be fragments of those
documents (and all of them should be word or text docs, I believe)
that are still somewhere on the computer.  And although company email
servers were never used to send email to the rival company, Yahoo or
Hotmail servers WERE used.  Possibly Outlook as well.  And although
all emails have been erased, one fears the traces of these emails may
linger somewhere in cyberspace.  I am looking for the best possible
software solution that will be able to search the harddrive for
recoverable documents and then permanently destroy them, and any
information on Yahoo (especially!!), Hotmail, Gmail, and other free
servers and what happens to emails that are deleted and any solutions
to permanently delete them (including deleting the accounts, if this
Subject: Re: best options for permanently erasing information from a computer harddrive
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 25 May 2006 15:04 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you for the question. I have included 3 software options for you
to consider. All of these give you the option of manually permanently
erasing anything you want. It will also run a general scan, which
erases personal information and uneeded temoporary files, etc.

I figured I would start with these and if you need something more
specific- I'll find it for you.

Hope this helps!


1) Cyber Scrub

"Deleted files are easily recovered using simple software tools.
Sensitive data, such as passwords, financials or health records are at
risk. Don't allow discovery by a snoop, computer technician or
unauthorized persons.

Privacy Suite allows you to erase and destroy data with methods that
exceed the US Department of Defense standards for file secure erasure
(DoD 5220.22)"

2) Secure Clean

"SecureClean scans your hard drive for deleted and hidden personal
information. SecureClean then completely cleans your computer hard
SecureClean can clean your computer at any time, or you can schedule
SecureClean to automatically clean your hard drive every day, week, or
month, or you can customize your cleaning schedule.
You also have the choice of Quick Cleaning or Deep Cleaning. You need
to clean hard drive data, and SecureClean makes it easy! "

3) Window Washer

Review from PC World,aid,120340,pg,5,00.asp

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 25 May 2006 16:19 PDT
By the way- I didn't just pick a few at random. I have used the first
one, Cyber Scrub, and was pleased with it and the other two were
recommended to me by an expert.

Thanks again.

Request for Answer Clarification by richardjahillary-ga on 25 May 2006 16:55 PDT
The only clarification I'd ask for is for the last part of my
question: what happens to Yahoo email accounts.  I remember the case
of a soldier in Iraq who had been killed, and his family wanted to
gain access to his email.  But Yahoo wouldn't allow them access.  The
pertinent part (at least as far as my question goes) is, the family
was worried because after a certain period of time, Yahoo would
permanently delete the account, and no one could gain access to it
ever again.  Which is certainly what my own hypothetical employee
wishes to do with the account used to send emails to a rival company. 
What is Yahoo's policy on deleting email accounts and how does one do

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 25 May 2006 19:41 PDT
Sorry- I misread that last part of your question. I thought you just
wanted to know how to delete the emails themselves.

As for deleting a Yahoo account- the user of the account (or someone
that has access to the login information on the account) would have to
actively close it. This individual could also delete all of the mail
in the account before closing the account proper.

Outside of getting a court order or hacking the account, there is no
way for someone other than the user of the account or Yahoo to shut
down a Yahoo account or delete emails that are saved on Yahoo's

This goes for Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.  

The case you mentioned about the dead Marine's family that was denied
access to the email account is common. Personal email accounts are
kept secret, unless their is a strong legal reason, Yahoo would not
turn over a personal email account. In this case, the email account
will be deleted (after 4 months of non-use is Yahoo's policy).

Deleting Yahoo Email Accounts

"If you delete your Yahoo! Mail account, you also lose your Yahoo!
GeoCities page, your My Yahoo! settings, your Hotjobs profile and
other data in services belonging to the Yahoo! empire. If you are
paying for any Yahoo! subscription services such as Yahoo! Mail Plus,
it is probably best to cancel these first to avoid unexpected

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 26 May 2006 11:18 PDT
Thank you for the stars and the tip. I look forward to working for you again.

Best regards,
richardjahillary-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
A splendid answer that offered me several alternatives.  Also provided
a prompt & thorough clarification!

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