File Shredding - Data Erasure

File shredding, when used as a computing term, is used to describe the process of completely getting rid of data on a computer or related piece of machinery. This process is also widely referred to as data erasure. This kind of file shredding will completely remove data from a hard drive so that it cannot ever be recovered. File shredding, unlike certain other deletion methods, will not harm the actual working of the computer or machine on which the erasure method is being used.

In general terms if you delete a file from a computer in the normal way then the file does not actually disappear and remains on your system. Here you remove the ‘access’ to the file but it could be re-found with various types of data recovery software packages. File shredding, on the other hand, completely removes the file so that it cannot technically be re-found.

Most software packages that offer a file shredding facility will basically use an overwriting system to get rid of data where they write a series of 1s and 0s over it. Here the software package will produce multiple overwrites of the data in question which renders it meaningless but which leaves the base computer in working order at the end of the process. These kinds of packages can be used on an ad hoc or regular basis depending on the security measures involved.

File shredding can be used in a domestic environment - you could, for example, be looking to sell an old computer and want to make sure that all of your own data is removed first. In most cases, however, this kind of file erasure system will be used in commercial, military or government processes where confidentiality is a key issue. So, for example, a government department that is selling off old computers would need a fairly robust file shredding system in place to erase sensitive or confidential data.