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Wiping free space on your hard drive with CCleaner will clean your drive with a few wipes; you may need to first clean up temporary files, caches, and deleted files.

I have CCleaner and Recuva, the free versions. When I try to wipe my free space in CCleaner using the seven wipes, it doesn't work. Then I Recuva and many files, pictures, etc. turn up. Is there any way I can permanently wipe my free space outside of a total reinstall? Can files be put into the Recycle Bin in a standalone hard disk and then format the hard disk? Thanks for any help that you can provide.

In this excerpt from Answercast #32, I look at cleaning up free space with CCleaner and how Recycle Bins work on hard drives.

Wiping free space

So, a couple of comments on this:

  • CCleaner does wipe the free space.

What I'm concerned about is that, perhaps, the files you're seeing come back when you run Recuva weren't really deleted:

  • Maybe they were in the Recycle Bin;

  • Maybe they were temporary files;

  • Maybe they were internet browser cache files.

So make sure that you've also run CCleaner's Clean - which goes out and deletes all of these other files first, before you run its wiping utility.

Seven wipes

For the record, seven wipes is way overkill:

  • One wipe will do.

  • Three wipes if you're paranoid.

  • Seven wipes is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Secure delete

If, for whatever reason, you can't get CCleaner's wipe to work, there is another utility called SDelete.

There is an article on my site about Secure Deletion. SDelete is a command line tool that will effectively do the same thing. It has options to tell it to wipe the free space on the hard drive. It will override all of the free space on the hard drive – any number of times (again I'll say one or two is plenty).

  • That should give you the same result that CCleaner did.

Files not deleted

If it does give you the same result that CCleaner did, I'm going to stick with my original assertion that the files that Recuva is recovering for you weren't really deleted in the first place. So double-check that.

  • Double-check how you are using CCleaner.

  • Consider using SDelete as an alternative free space wiper.

Move the Recycle Bin

Now, as to your other question, "Can files be put into a Recycle Bin on a standalone hard disk?"

Unfortunately not. The Recycle Bin is actually a per hard disk thing.

  • If you have multiple hard disks on your system, you will find that each hard disk has its own Recycle Bin folder.

There are several reasons for this. Ultimately (if theoretically) you were able to have a Recycle Bin on a separate drive, deleting a file would actually be copying it from the original file to the Recycle Bin drive. That just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Not only would it be slow, but the original file would still be kind of recoverable on the original drive. That just doesn't make sense.

How Recycle Bin works:

What you find is that each Recycle Bin, on each drive, is simply a place where the system can move the directory entry for the file without having to copy it when you delete it. So that's not gonna be an approach.

But I really do think that CCleaner should be working properly for you. If it doesn't SDelete's a good alternative.

Article C5550 - July 5, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


July 6, 2012 9:01 AM

Again, with SSD hard drive it is not recommended one uses CCleaner's Wipe function!!!

July 6, 2012 9:36 AM

Hi Leo
Interesting question for me despite being an OAP
Up until you answer, my opinion was that if one did watch a video of the delicious Pamela Anderson and then deleted it and then ran Recuva , you might see the name come up IE Pamela Anderson but no content would be available. Could be totally wrong on this one. Any ideas ???

It depends on the technology used. If the video was a download, then the download could still be recovered on your machine. If the video was streamed then not. It's sometimes difficult to know which is which.

July 6, 2012 9:40 AM

Meant above wiped with CCleaner of course

A Richter
July 6, 2012 9:56 AM

I concur that CCleaner generally does a good job, and that it needs to be used for cleaning before one goes for a free-space wipe.
When it comes to deleting sensitive files, AxCrypt could be used in the first instance, with its Shred & Delete option. This puts Recycle Bin (and its implications) out of the equation, together with Recuva.

July 12, 2012 10:39 PM

"Eraser" will do what you want. It has various options for how many times the space is wiped. It will also wipe file tips, virtually eliminating anything besides your files. It's portable and extremely effective.

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