Welcome to the Wipe Tools homepage.
Wipe tools is a set of tools for wiping data, including:
- libgsecuredelete, a GObject wrapper library for the secure-delete tools;
- Nautilus Wipe, a Nautilus extension that provides wiping integration.
An introduction to data deletion
Deletion doesn't affect data
When you delete a file, even when bypassing or emptying the trash, you only tell your computer that you don't care anymore about the file. The file's entry is removed from the list of existing files but the content of the file remains on the storage medium. The data will remain there until the operating system reuses the space for new data.
It could take weeks, months or years before this space get used for new data, actually overwriting the content of the deleted file. Until then, it is possible to recover the data by reading directly on the storage medium. That's a quite simple operation, automated by numerous software.
An answer: overwriting data several times
If you want to make the content of a file really hard to recover, you have to overwrite it with other data. But that's not enough. On a magnetic hard disk, it is known1 that the content can still be recovered by doing magnetic analysis of the hard disk surface. To address this issue, it is possible to overwrite the content to be deleted several times. That process is called "wiping".
If some sensible files have been already deleted without paying attention to this issue, some of their data probably remains on the storage medium. It is thus also useful to wipe all the available free space of a storage medium.
The Wipe Tools tries to make it easy to wipe free space as well as arbitrary files.
- Peter Gutmann: Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory, 6th Usenix Security Symposium, 1996 http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/secure_del.html