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# Shred Files: Delete Files & Folders Securely in Windows 10/11

Want to delete files and folders securely and irrecoverably to ensure that the data you deleted is really gone? It is easy.

In this quick and easy guide, let me walk you through the process of shredding files and deleting files and folders securely in Windows.

Important note: To delete files securely, you need administrator rights.

## How to delete files securely in Windows

To shred files and delete them securely and irrecoverably, we will use a free Microsoft file shredding software called SDelete (Secure Delete). Files deleted using SDelete are unrecoverable even with the special file recovery software.

First, download SDelete from Microsoft’s official website. After downloading, extract the zipped file to a folder by right-clicking on it and selecting “Extract all.” In the next window, click on the “Extract” button to the SDelete folder to the same directory as the zip file.

After that, open Command Prompt as an administrator. To do that, press the “Start” icon on the taskbar, search for “Command Prompt” in the start menu, and select the “Run as Administrator” option.

In the Command Prompt window, use the “cd” as shown below to go to the SDelete folder. Don’t forget to replace the dummy path with the actual SDelete folder path.

Note: If your SDelete folder is in another drive (like D drive), execute the “DriveLetter:” (ex. D:) command before executing the “cd” command.

cd "C:\path\to\sdelete\folder"

Once you are in the SDelete folder, 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"

You might see a user agreement policy window if this is your first time using SDelete. Agree to the policy, and SDelete will delete the file.

Note: By default, SDelete is set to use 1 pass. i.e., it overwrites the data once. Generally, 1 pass is good enough. If you are paranoid, you can increase the number of passes using the “-p” flag. For example, if you want two passes, the command will be sdelete -p 2 "C:\path\to\file.txt".

That is it. With that, you’ve deleted the files securely. Files deleted using SDelete cannot be recovered even with file recovery software.

Remember that depending on the file size and the number of passes, it can take some time to complete the process.

## How to delete folders securely in Windows

To shred files and delete them securely and irrecoverably, we will use a free Microsoft file shredding software called SDelete (Secure Delete). Files deleted using SDelete are unrecoverable even with the special file recovery software.

First, download SDelete from Microsoft’s official website. After downloading, extract the zipped file to a folder. To do that, right-click on the zip file and select “Extract all.” Next, click on the “Extract” button. This action extracts the SDelete folder in the same directory as the zip file.

Next, search for Command Prompt in the Start menu and click on the “Run as Administrator” option to open the cmd window as admin. In the cmd window, navigate to the SDelete folder using the below command.

Note: If your SDelete folder is in another drive (like D drive), execute the “DriveLetter:” (ex. D:) command before executing the “cd” command.

cd "C:\path\to\sdelete\folder"

Now, run the below command while replacing the dummy folder path with the actual folder path.

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

The -s flag in the above command tells SDelete to securely delete all files and folders inside the target folder and then delete the actual folder.

Note: By default, SDelete is set to use 1 pass. i.e., it overwrites the data once. Generally, 1 pass is good enough. If you are paranoid, you can increase the number of passes using the “-p” flag. For example, if you want two passes, the command will be sdelete -s -p 2 "C:\path\to\folder".

That is it. Once you run the SDelete command, it will shred and securely delete the folder. Depending on the folder size and number of passes, it can take some time to securely delete the folder.

## Why should you shred files & folders?

When you delete a file or folder in Windows (or any OS, for that matter), it’s not actually gone. It’s just been removed from plain sight, and the space is marked free. When Windows needs the space to save new content, it will overwrite the deleted content.

How and when Windows overwrites the deleted content is completely up to it, and you have little to no control over the process.

As long as the deleted content is not overwritten, it can be recovered using special, yet easily available, recovery software.

If you want to delete files permanently and without the possibility of recovery, you need to shred them using data-shredding software like SDelete. A data-shredding software securely overwrites the data multiple times, making it irrecoverable. This process of deleting files irrecoverably is often called data shredding, shredding files, or secure deletion.

For example, when deleting sensitive information like password files, it is recommended that you wipe them securely so that no one can recover them.

## What happens when you delete files securely?

When you delete files or folders securely, file-shredding software like SDelete securely overwrites the data multiple times with random data or gibberish. Since you are purposefully overwriting the deleted content, it is impossible to recover securely deleted files and folders.

If you or someone tries to recover securely deleted files, all you get is the overwritten data.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about file-shredding and securely deleting files and folders in Windows:

What is the best way to permanently delete files?

The best way to permanently delete files is to use file-shredding software like SDelete. Files deleted using file-shredding software are unrecoverable even using special recovery software.

How do I securely delete files and folders in Windows?

To securely delete files and folders in Windows, you can use a file shredding tool like SDelete. It allows you to choose the number of passes to overwrite the data, making the deleted files and folders unrecoverable.

Can you securely delete an entire folder?

Yes, you can securely delete an entire folder. When using SDelete, use the “-s” flag along with the complete folder path. For example, sdelete -s "C:\path\to\folder".

Can you securely delete files on SSD?

Yes, you can securely delete files on SSD using special file-shredding software like SDelete. Though most SSDs come with built-in Secure Erase methods, studies have shown that some data is recoverable. So, it is recommended that you use purpose-built software like SDelete to shred files on SSD.

How many passes do you need when shredding files?

Generally, 1 pass is good enough. If you are paranoid, you can increase the number of passes. However, keep in mind that as you increase the number of passes, it takes more time to securely delete the target file, folder, or drive.

## Securely deleting files in Windows — Conclusion

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

That is all. It is that simple to shred files and delete them securely.

I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need help, send an email, 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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