CCleaner – Hard Drive

CCleaner’s Drive Wiper Feature
By Don Trauger – Kennett

Most of you have at least heard of CCleaner, the junk file cleaner program. It’s use has been written about in my Guide and Digest articles and discussed at the PC Computer Club meetings.

One of the features built into CCleaner is called Drive Wiper. Although the name sounds ominous it really is not a dangerous tool. Here’s how it works.

When you delete a file, Windows removes the reference to that file, but doesn’t delete the actual data that made up the file on your hard drive. Over time, this data will be overwritten as Windows writes new files to that area of the drive. This means that, given the right software, someone could reconstruct all or parts of files that you’ve deleted. For privacy and security reasons, you can set CCleaner to wipe the free areas of your hard disk so that deleted files can never be recovered.

I don’t recommend that you use Drive Wiper as part of your normal monthly maintenance. It’s best utilized when you are ready to dispose of your computer to prepare it for recycling. If you are planning to dispose of your computer you may want to save your data files first. Refer to my article in the April 2014 Guide & Digest “Moving Files from Windows XP to Windows 8.1”. After saving your data you can then delete those files and finish by running Drive Wiper. Remember to delete any personal folders too. Here are the steps.

Method 1 (Automatically wipe when cleaning):

  • 1. Open CCleaner, click the CCleaner icon at left if necessary.
  • 2. Click the Windows tab, Scroll to bottom and select the Wipe Free Space check box.
  • 3. CCleaner displays a warning about extra time. Click OK.
  • 4. Run CCleaner as usual by clicking Analyze then Run Cleaner.

Method 2 (Manually wipe with Drive Wiper):

  • 1. Open CCleaner and click Tools then Drive Wiper.
  • 2. Choose the type of wipe you require:
    a. Free Space Only will leave your personal files intact but will erase your deleted files.
    b. Entire Drive will erase all of the files on the drive. WARNING, this means the whole of the partition will be erased. The drive will still be formatted, but all data will be erased. For safety reasons, this feature is disabled for the boot or system hard drive.

  • 3. Choose the type of security you require (Simple Overwrite is OK for most situations)
  • 4. CCleaner will warn you before proceeding.

An explanation for step “b” above would apply to a backup drive where no operating system is installed. If you were to apply it to your system drive, the one where Windows is installed, then it would leave Windows and your data intact because the command is disabled for the system drive.

My recommendation is Method 2 and choose 2a when you are ready to dispose of your computer.

Get more information about CCleaner and Drive Wiper at our PC Club meetings. They are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 PM upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center.

A reminder that computer disposal will be available on Saturday, October 11 between 9 AM and 3 PM at the Government Services building on Westtown Rd. in West Chester.