How to permanently remove deleted files

Written by kevin bramer
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to permanently remove deleted files
(computer image by Orlando Florin Rosu from

Like everyone else, you've probably had a file stored in your computer that you would prefer not to be seen by anyone else. But deleting the file and emptying the recycle bin is only one step of the process toward complete removal. The file can still be found by anyone with an interest in locating it, as the information remains; only the pathway to the file has been deleted. However, on Windows operating systems, there is a way to permanently delete the file.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Delete the desired file(s) from the computer. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon and select "Empty Recycle Bin." Close all open windows on your computer. Open a command prompt by going to the "Start" menu, highlighting "All Programs," selecting "Accessories" and clicking on "Command Prompt."

  2. 2

    Type "cipher /w:(desired drive):(folder name)," then press "Enter." This will remove all unallocated data in the folder. For example, to remove all unallocated files in the "Images" folder on your "C" drive, type: "cipher /w:c:\images," then press "Enter."

  3. 3

    Return to the "Start" menu, highlight "All Programs," choose "Accessories," then select "System Tools." Click on "Defragment Drive." Defragmenting your drive will remove any traces of the deleted files and ensure optimum system performance.

Tips and warnings

  • Use caution before permanently deleting any file on a computer. Make absolutely sure that you no longer need the file.

Don't Miss


  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.