Empty Your Trash…For Real!

We delete tons of documents and folders from our computers throughout the week, but they aren’t really gone. When we put a document in the trash and then select “Empty Trash”, the document remains on our computer. The only thing that happens is that the space occupied by those files is now available to be overwritten with a new file. And eventually that will probably happen. But in the meantime, the old file remains. And anyone with even a basic data recovery piece of software would be able to restore that file and view it. And that isn’t a good thing for information that you want to remain confidential.

So what should you do?

Starting with OS X 10.5, known as Leopard, the Mac offers a secure option for deleting documents. When you use this secure method, your computer overwrites the document with gibberish, making it extremely difficult for anyone to recover the data. This process takes a few moments longer, but it is worth it when it comes to protecting sensitive documents.

So how do you do this?

Toss your items in the trash can, just like you always do. But instead of emptying the trash in your usual manner, move your cursor up and pull down the Finder menu. Select “Secure Empty Trash”.

Secure Empty TrashA pop-up menu will ask you to confirm that this is what you want. Click “OKAY” and your files will be securely deleted from your computer.

One thought on “Empty Your Trash…For Real!

  1. Awesome tip and reminder. I just worked with a teacher last week that had never emptied her trash. 23,000 items in the can! Trash emptied securely and her machine is running much faster.

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