Free Document Shredders For Windows Users
Most people would think that deleting your files on your computer would just mean sending it to the recycle bin or its equivalent. But what many don’t know is that "emptying" the recycle bin or “permanently deleting” a file on your computer doesn’t actually remove the file. What your operating system does is that it marks the space previously occupied by the file as “free”, allowing new data to overwrite it. This means that these ‘deleted’ files can be recovered pretty easily using file recovery applications like Recuva, so long as the space it occupied hasn’t been overwritten yet. This is highly risky, especially if you share your device with someone else or are planning to sell or donate it away.
This is the very reason why we should always use document shredders to ensure that unwanted documents are truly removed from our devices.
Document shredders are software that securely delete your files by overwriting the space occupied by it, making recovery an impossible feat. These software use different kinds of shredding algorithms, which are steps the document shredder follows in deleting your files securely. The 4 most common ones offered by many document shredders are the Gutmann, *US DoD 5220.22-M(E), US DoD 5220.22-M(ECE), and random data algorithms.
To start you off on your practice in properly destroying files with personal or sensitive information, here are 7 free document shredders for Windows users.
*(The US DoD 5220.22-M(E) and US DoD 5220.22-M(ECE) algorithms are iterations of the US DoD 5220.22-M standard algorithm)
Eraser allows you to schedule your erasures
Eraser is one of the most commonly recommended tools out there—for a good reason. It supports Windows XP Service Pack 3 to Windows 10, and offers a wide variety of file erasure methods, including the Gutmann and US DoD 5220.22-M standard algorithms. It allows you to schedule your erasures and integrate its software with File Explorer on Windows 10. It even offers the option of overwriting the erased files with specified files.
With the integration feature, you can delete your files directly from the right-click drop down menu
The integration with File Explorer is a pretty nifty feature as it allows you to delete a file directly from the right-click drop down menu. You can even choose between moving the file securely to another location and deleting it.
File Shredder allows you to simply drag and drop the files you wish to delete, with the added feature of the Shell integration
File Shredder is another program that has 5 types of file shredding methods, with the Gutmann and US DoD 5220.22-M standard algorithms among the lot. It also has a Shred Free Disk Space option, which helps eliminate any last trace of deleted files on your storage device. This process, however, may take some time depending on the algorithm and amount of free space on the storage device.
Deleting files are really simple with this program. Simply drag and drop the files and folders you wish to delete into the application, and it will be queued for deletion. It also has a “Shell integration” feature, which works similarly to the integration feature of Eraser.
The Shell integration feature allows you to delete your files directly from the right-click drop down menu too
You can delete files directly using the “Secure delete files” option, or add it to a list of files to be deleted at a later time using the “Remember to be deleted later” option. The “Call File Shredder” option launches the File Shredder program.
Source, BleachBit supports both Windows and Linux distributions
BleachBit is both a junk file cleaner and a file shredding program combined. It supports Windows and mainstream Linux distributions and is also available in a portable version, which makes it convenient for you to carry it around in a thumb drive. Being available in a portable version means not having to install it onto the device, which is ideal for those using a shared one. However, it requires administrative privileges, which is a downside if you are using a shared device that you do not have admin rights to.
It does not have File Explorer integration, making it slightly inconvenient to select the files you wish to shred. As a result, you’ll have to use File Explorer to hunt for the specific files or folders you wish to delete, instead of just dragging and dropping it into the program.
While it can also wipe free spaces, it can only wipe the space occupied by a folder one at a time, instead of that occupied by the entire disk. This can be troublesome if you don’t remember which specific folders you deleted files from, as you’ll then have to wipe the space from all your folders one at a time.
Secure Eraser offers a variety of functions including a system cleanse
Secure Eraser comes with six distinct features like registry cleaning, system cleaning, and report administration. The report administration feature allows you to generate detailed deletion reports of every session for your viewing pleasure.
The software offers all of the shredding algorithms mentioned above, to ensure the deletion of your files can be executed in the most secure manner.
SecureDelete allows you to conveniently drag-and-drop files you wish to delete
SecureDelete has the 4 main types of shredding algorithms: Gutmann, DOD 5220.22-M(E), DOD 5220.22-M(ECE) and random data algorithm. On top of that, selection of the files you wish to shred is really simple—just drag and drop.
The only gripe, however, is that it doesn’t offer you an integration feature with File Explorer, which might pose as an inconvenience to some.
It offers the unique feature of deleting paging files
What makes this secure shredding program unique from others is that it has the option to delete paging files upon shutdown. Paging files are memory contents from your computer that are saved to its disk when it runs out of memory. These contents linger on your device until it’s used again, which makes information about the programs you ran on your computer in its most recent session recoverable if not deleted.
Blank And Secure adopts a minimalist, no-frills interface, making it a good option for IT rookies
Blank And Secure is a minimalist shredding program where you can just drag-and-drop your files in. Having a more simplistic interface, we definitely recommend this to IT rookies as it is fairly straightforward. But that comes with the downside of not having many of the features present in other shredder programs.
It has a message box below to clearly display any error messages when deleting the files and supports Windows XP through Windows 10.
WipeFile is portable, loaded with a whopping 14 shredding algorithms and offers the drag-and-drop feature
WipeFile is a portable shredder that wipes files and folders with a total of 14 shredding algorithms. This means that you have a wide variety of options to customise the security of the destruction according to the nature of the file to be shredded; ideal for those using a shared device. Like BleachBit, its trait of being portable makes it an ideal option for those sharing your device with others and wish not to download the software onto it. It’s advantage over BleachBit is that it doesn’t require administrative permissions to use it.
It offers the File Explorer integration feature
You can enable the File Explorer integration feature in its settings. This adds an option “Wipe with WipeFile” when you click right on a file or folder, which adds the selected file to the list of files to be wiped. It also has the drag-and-drop function for you to conveniently queue files and folders to be deleted.
Prevent Others From Recovering Your Data By Using Document Shredders
These 7 document shredders should serve as a fantastic starting point for newbies. We hope that you find at least one of the above suited for your palette. Above all, just remember to always use a document shredder when deleting sensitive data to prevent malicious attempts to recover it.