USB Flash Drives – Don’t forget to wipe them before discarding them

By Sandra Clitter  

Ahhh…those ubiquitous little USB drives that litter our desks, briefcases, pockets, purses. How handy they are. How easy to lose. And, typically, we carry our most important information on them – or our current ‘most important’ projects. Once you’re done with the drive, you may just hand it over to someone else to use, or delete the files and leave the drive on your desk for the next use.

Here’s the problem…even if you delete the files, they’re not really ‘gone’. Hackers (or other evil-minded people) can recover deleted files from Flash Drives – even if it’s hard for you to do.

So, how do you deal with this, given the need to keep/use USB Flash Drives?

When you deleted the files (ostensibly ’emptying’ the drive), or after you’ve ‘cut’ and ‘pasted’ the files on the flash drive to another location, WIPE the drive. Use a utility to erase it completely.

Enter ‘Disk Wipe’ by ( This little utility is great tool to add to your virtual bag of tricks.

Download it, then unzip the file and copy the contents (there is only one file) to a separate Flash Drive (not the one you want to wipe). Run the application. All you need to do is to select the drive letter and the number of times the utility should run over the data (the more passes, the more thoroughly the data is erased – use a minimum of three passes). You can decide whether you want “junk” data written in place of your data or whether you want all data erased. Your choice.

Press the ‘Erase’ button and wait. You can now leave the flash drive laying around, hand it off to someone else, or even lose it/throw it away without fear that the data it contained will fall into the wrong hands.

By the way, Roadkil’s utilities (and there are a BUNCH of them available for download) are free. The developer does ask that donations be made if you feel like you’re getting good value, so that they can continue to offer free apps.

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