Wipe the hard drive clean

If someone copied my hard drive and he was VERY expert, could he somehow recover from my hard drive “double-deleted” e-mail. Further, I have routinely defragmented my system before the hard drive was copied. Would that help prevent him from finding deleted e-mail?

Answer: Technically, any file is recoverable after you delete it. E-mail is harder to recover because it is kept in a database inside the e-mail program and is erased when the “trash can” or “recycle bin” in the e-mail program is emptied.

If your e-mail program keeps e-mail as separate files or keeps a backup of e-mail in an archive, then e-mail is recoverable. Even if the program deletes a back-up file itself, the file can still be recovered by an expert with the right software.

When a file is deleted, it is only marked as all right to overwrite by the computer and can be recovered with the right piece of software. That’s why undelete programs are possible.

But if you defragment your hard drive—that is to say, reorganize the data blocks on your hard drive with either the Windows Defragmentation utility or a third party program such as O&O DeFrag—the computer probably will overwrite any residual deleted files that are still on the hard drive.

If the defragmentation was only partial, however, or if the drive was not fragmented much, there is still a possibility that the deleted file continues to exist in an area of the hard drive that hasn’t been overwritten by the defragmentation process.

If you really want to be sure that any deleted file is gone, back up the files you want to keep, then reformat the drive and reinstall the backup.

For extra security, try this program: CyberScrub.