Securely overwrite disk space with your choice of a variety of random data patterns


Our rating: 

License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free Hard Drive Eraser

Pros & Cons:

Works with any drive, including IDE, SCSI and RAID, and CD-RWs. Excellent for scheduling, rich features, and has good help and forum support. Gives informative reports, noting any unerased files/cluster tips.
Heavy on system resources, starts slower than FileShredder, the scheduler is of minimal usefulness for resource conscious users, and some forum posters have criticisms of its new interface.

Our Review:

Eraser allows you to easily add tasks to securely erase selected files and folders, unused disk space (aka free space), cluster tips (aka slack space), and the recycling bin. Eraser can overwrite the data area with your choice of a variety of random data patterns (14 default patterns and a custom pattern creator). It comes with a very detailed built-in help file. And the forum seems quite responsive to questions and problems. It works with any drive (including IDE, SCSI, and RAID), and with FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS partitions.

It was very effective in my testing on a medium size hard drive (with 120+ GB partitions). After it erased the free space with a single pass of random data wiping ("simple pseudorandom data"), PC Inspector File Recovery only found 0 bit nonsense file names (none of which were recoverable). And it produced informative reports for files it could not erase, such as those in use.

If you consult its FAQ Forum section (here), you can also set it to wipe data in the Internet cache, temporary files, Internet cookies, and other custom locations, but CCleaner is easier to use for such cleaning (see below).

In the negative, it was fairly heavy in memory use. It also became heavier over time as I used the windows explorer extension to erase particular files/folders. If it starts to get too heavy, then I suggest deleting the "Task List.ersx" file (it will delete all your existing tasks, though). My task list file got around 200 MBs before I thought to delete it; it's located in your user folder under "AppData" > "Local", but you can just use the search box to find the file. I suggest exporting your existing tasks at an early stage to be able to import them later (in case the program starts to bulge). The new interface received a bit of criticism, but the underlying erasing engine surpasses the competition.

A portable version of this software is available here.

Eraser was reviewed by on