How to Delete Files and Folders Securely & Irrecoverably in Windows 10

When you delete a file or folder, it can be recovered using special tools. If you don’t want that to happen, follow the below steps to delete files and folders securely and irrecoverably.

Generally, when you delete a file or folder, Windows is just removing the pointer to that location and marking that location as free. When Windows needs to store something else, it just overwrites the deleted content. How and when Windows overwrites the deleted content is completely up to it. You have little to no control over it.

However, as long as the deleted content is not overwritten, you can recover the files or folders you deleted relatively easily using special programs.

So, if you want to make sure that no one can recover your deleted files, you have to secure delete them. This particularly important for sensitive files.

Secure deletion is nothing but a process where you delete a file and then overwrite the space occupied by the deleted files with random data or gibberish. Since you are purposefully overwriting, it is also impossible to recover the files that are securely deleted.

To make this happen, we are going to use a first-party free software called. SDelete. SDelete is a simple command-line program that makes it possible to delete files securely and irrecoverably.

Download SDelete from Microsoft and extract it to a folder on to your desktop. Once you’ve done that, follow the below steps.

Secure delete files and folders windows 10 - sdelete folder

To delete files securely, you need admin rights.

Delete Files Securely

1. First, search for “Command Prompt” in the start menu, right-click on the result and select “Run as Administrator”. If you are using Windows 10, you can also select the same option from the right panel.

Secure delete files and folders windows 10 - open cmd as admin

2. In the Command Prompt window, go to the SDelete folder using the below command. Replace the dummy path with the actual SDelete folder path.

cd "C:\path\to\sdelete\folder"
Secure delete files and folders windows 10 - go to sdelete folder

3. Now, execute the below command to delete a file. Don’t forget to replace the dummy file path and the file name with the actual path and file name along with its extension.

sdelete "C:\path\to\file.txt"

4. If this is your first time using SDelete, you might see a policy window. Agree to the policy and SDelete will delete the file.

Secure delete files and folders windows 10 - file deleted

Delete Folders Securely

Just like files, you can also delete folders. Since a folder may contain multiple files or sub-folders, you need to add an additional switch to the command. Let me show you how.

1. Like before, open Command Prompt as admin and navigate to the SDelete folder using the cd command.

2. In the Command Prompt window, execute the below command. Don’t forget to replace the dummy folder path with the actual folder path.

sdelete -s "C:\path\to\folder"

The -s in the above command will make the SDelete program to recursively delete any files and folders inside the target folder and delete the actual folder.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, it is pretty simple and easy to securely delete files and folders in Windows 10. If you are deleting confidential or sensitive information, I recommend you follow the above approach so that no one can recover the files you delete.

Hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible. If you like this article, do check out how to delete files via Command Prompt in Windows.

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