How to Delete a File Permanently

Although it is relatively easy to delete a file normally, some remnants will remain long after you have gotten rid of the file. If you want to delete a file permanently and erase all trace of its existence, you may need to take some additional steps.


    • 1

      Put the file in the recycling bin and then empty it. Do this by dragging the file over the recycling bin icon, then clicking the right mouse button over the icon and selecting "Empty Recycle Bin" from the submenu.

    • 2

      Discern where the file originally came from. Was it downloaded from the Internet? Was it created by a word processing or video creation program? Write down all the programs you used in conjunction with the file you just deleted.

    • 3

      If the file came from the Internet, you will need to clear your cache, browsing history and temporary Internet files in to erase any trace of the file ever existing. Do this by going to the "Internet Options" area of your browser (under the "Tools" section in Internet Explorer and Firefox), then finding each of these elements and pressing "Clear," "Erase" or "Delete" next to each of these elements.

    • 4

      If the file was created/viewed/modified by a program (Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat or Windows Movie Maker are some examples), go to the program folder (under My Computer) and click on the specific program that used/created the file you want to delete. You should see a temporary folder somewhere in the program's file. This file might be named "Temporary," "Temp" or even "~Tmp." Since each program has a different file structure, this may take a while to find. Once you do, delete all the files in this folder.

    • 5

      Run a disk cleanup. This will get rid of all the temporary system files that may have picked up on the file you want permanently deleted. Run the disk cleanup by going to the star bar, selecting "Programs" and then going to the accessories menu. Select "Disk Cleanup" and then hit the start button to begin the process.

    • 6

      Restart your computer. This will reset all the programs that were using the file you wanted to delete permanently. Once the computer powers back on, there should be no trace of your deleted file.

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  • Photo Credit Bilboq via Wikimedia; Public Domain

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