"Secure empty trash" vs. "empty trash"

Discussion in 'macOS' started by diehldun, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. diehldun macrumors 6502a

    Nov 15, 2003
    Basically, I was an idiot, and in a rush, I accidentally clicked "Empty Trash" instead of "Secure Empty Trash", and got rid of a bunch of sensitive files I wanted to permanently delete. I know there's really not much I can do right now, but is it still possible to retrieve the "deleted" stuff? Or even on regular trash, is the stuff really gone? Urghhhh.
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    It may be possible to retrieve them but I personally wouldn't worry too much as OSX will soon overwrite them.
  3. eluk macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2006
    East London, UK
    Go to Utilities | Disk Utility and select your Hard Drive and on the erase tab click 'Erase Free Space'. You get three options.
  4. diehldun thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 15, 2003

    So essentially, in the long run, there's no difference between secure and non-secure? OSX will eventually overwrite regardless?
  5. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    It depends how long run you mean. If they were very sensitive the best is to do as suggested above and erase the free space on the drive (I would use 7 pass myself).
  6. TWEO macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2006
    In the long run, it's the same. As the space is marked as "available", it'll be overwritten someday, somewhere. The difference is, that, using secure delete, OSX will write some random data over the space that was occupied by the deleted files. It might even do this multiple times to be sure not even a professional recovery firm can get it back.
  7. MK2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2007
    Unless your computer is shared and located in an unsecured, risky area it won't matter whether or not you chose "Empty Trash" or "Secure Empty Trash". If and when you sell the computer some day, you can zero out the hard drive. This is a much better solution than waiting extra time during your ownership period of the machine.
  8. Poster macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2007
    Secure Empty Trash and personal security

    Being a new iMac owner after running Microsoft Windows for over a decade, I am discovering the appeal and functionality that has caused Apples stock to soar in the last several years.

    Being a new iMac owner, to some extent reverts me back to newbie status. With that being said, I am discovering new functions daily.

    Electronic security is a huge concern with most people using a computer. Incidents of personal information being stolen are at an all time high. Web pages visited can be used against you as evidence in some cases, whether you visited them, or someone else using your computer.

    Secure Empty Trash is a wonderful function that helps people feel more secure when deleting/sending to trash electronic personal data, but I wonder how well, when and what is securely deleted.

    Several questions come to mind, and if you think you know the answers, please do not post a response. I only want to hear from people that know what they are talking about. Please refrain from too much technical jargon. Plain English will be much more helpful to anyone interested in hearing the answers.

    When erasing a disk using Erase in the Disk Utility, I understand that the files are overwritten as zeros, which files does this overwrite? Document files? Operating files? Internet files? Picture files? Movie files? If all files are erased except operating files, what is the best way to accomplish this and protect your documents, pictures etc?

    How important is it to overwrite files/erase a startup disk for increased security?

    Prison is just a click away. People have been sent to Federal prison for inadvertently clicking on websites that are viewed as illegal in the USA. What is the best way to purge your computer of digital tracks?

    Thanks in advance :)
  9. Merlinus macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2007
    You know if the federal government really cared enough about what was on your harddrive, they could the data no matter which method of emptying the trash you used - short of you physically destroying the plates inside and then running the entire thing through a magnet AND a metal shredder.

    There have been a number of articles written (and there are companies in existence who get paid solely on their ability to prove this), that most "erasing" methods can't get the job done 100% securely.

    As far as "personal information" is concerned - it's not a huge deal as long as you don't let others access your notebook. Just don't ever toss your notebook away or sell it with your HDD inside - that's a precaution you should be taking no matter how you zero-fill or format your hdd (even if you 30-pass it).

    As far as being arrested for committing felonies by the federal government - all i can say is....stop doing things that are illegal?
  10. Poster macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2007
    I know the odds of the Federal government coming down on an individual for accessing illegal websites is rare, buy suppose your sons teenage friend wants to use your household PC to check his Yahoo mail. From there he follows a link that entices him with pictures of Hot Babes. The link takes him to a website originating in another country were it is legal. In the US it’s illegal. The Feds track traffic to the site and raid the residence. The homeowner is arrested and his PC confiscated.

    The scenario is fictitious but could in fact happen to anyone were multiple people use the computer and the security settings are too low.

    An upstanding citizen in our community had a similar incident happen to him recently and he is now doing time in a Federal penitentiary.

    So it’s easy to say, “Stop doing things that are illegal” When regular people, productive members of society end up in trouble as a result of what’s on their PC’s hard drive, it just doesn’t seem right.

    I feel that any website that is deemed illegal in this country should be made inaccessible or at the very least be required to have banners warning any unsuspecting surfers of the illegal content.

    Internet Regulations, do we need them? If not, we need to be aware of the implications, scenarios and surrounding developments that can ruin our lives in a heartbeat.

    So if someone does use your computer, and you suspect that they have accessed illegal sites, do you recommend buying a new computer and trashing the old one? It seems to me the WWW is the best and worst thing that has happened to computers and the computer environment. With the threat of virus’s, Trojans, Browser Hijackers, stolen personal property and information, constant updates, maintenance and imprisonment we all have to be very careful and not take access to the World Wide Web for granted.

    As an endnote I would like to add that I do love the Internet and have learned to live, deal with, and take precautions the same way I would as if I were driving a car or doing any other activity that could have undesirable implications.

    Okay, I’m done. I’m going to zero my HD now.
  11. DaDaDaDamien macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2012

    I'm totally not trying to be an ass posting this however, you are being quite paranoid. Can you tell me how many people ILLEGALLY pirate movies, pictures, software, and even porn. Pirating is viewed as very illegal in the US and they've obviously taken measures to take down certain websites because of it.
    Now i know this has nothing to do with what you're talking about but I'll get to my point.
    How many of those MILLIONS of people that pirate get sent to federal prison for committing that federal crime? NONE! SWIM downloads stuff all day everyday and hasn't even gotten a single letter in the mail. Now think about it.
    Your son accesses some crazy Mexican donkey porn which would be illegal in the US. Are they gonna come chase him down for clicking on it? NO! They only care about people looking at like child porn everything else doesn't really matter. If you are that paranoid about deleting a file then when you find your computer obsolete put it threw a metal shredder. And the "erasing empty space" feature only over writes anything within that empty space on your hard drive. Deleted porn, pictures, movies, grade school homework, ect.

    Again I wasn't trying to be an ass just point out some facts.
  12. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thanks for ranting about a post that's more than five years old. :rolleyes:
  13. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    If your files are really sensitive, you should store them on disks or virtual disks, which use FDE (Full Disk Encryption). Examples are File Vault 2 (FV2) and AES-encrypted disk images (.dmg files). Other solutions are PGP Desktop and TrueCrypt.


    No problem. Calm down. Thanks. :)
  14. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    copy some data in excess of the file sizes you deleted onto your drive and it should clobber it.

    if you're that paranoid, you should probably be running filevault anyway?

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