Securely Wipe / Delete Files and Cache History Using CCleaner

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Recently I sold one of my computers to a guy on Craigslist. Before I handed it over, however, I decided I wanted to “Wipe my tracks” so to speak of all personal information.  Now granted, there are many ways to remove your browsing history using your web browser’s built-in interface but what about other files on your Hard Drive?

Also, did you realize that when you delete a file or clear your cache using Firefox or IE, you’re not deleting anything from your Hard Drive?  What happens is your system just removes it from view and marks it as reusable space. That’s great, however, until new data writes over the old data, it can still be recovered using simple disk recovery/forensics applications.

Now you know why today we are going to review how to wipe all files, browser history, and cache from a hard drive.  Permanently.

CCleaner is the app of choice for me. It’s rock-solid freeware that can do everything we need it to do. It’s super simple to wipe files and folders as well as browser history and cache as reviewed in 2 previous articles:

First, Let’s get CCleaner Installed

1.   Download and Install CCleaner from the CCleaner Download Page

Note: If you’re a MAC user, take a look here for details on the MAC version

Download CCleaner to Securely Wipe / Delete files and cache from windows

2.   Run the Install Wizard for CCleaner, by Double-Clicking on the file you just downloaded.  The install is pretty self-explanatory.
Optional: I recommend you uncheck installing the Yahoo! toolbar option during install.  This is probably why the software is free ;)

Download CCleaner to Securely Wipe / Delete files and cache from windows

3.   Open CCleaner, Click Options, Settings, Secure File-Deletion, and Select DOD 5220.22-M (3 passes)

Note –  Sophisticated forensic applications can recover “Fragments” of data left on your hard drive even after you delete/wipe them.  To minimize the amount of “Fragments” left behind, CCleaner allows you to wipe/overwrite the files you’re deleting multiple times to ensure the data cannot be retrieved.  Simple Overwrite (1-3 passes) is typically secure enough for most people. However, if you’re super paranoid, you can choose the NSA or Military-Grade Gutmann 35 pass deletion.

Configure CCleaner to Securely Wipe and delete files 3 times or DOD 5220.22-M 

4.   Click on the Cleaner tab, and then Click Run Cleaner.

Note – You can customize what files you would like to delete, and there are even options for erasing different Application histories on your computer.
Begin Secure Wipe of Temp files and Cache using CCleaner

Note for Advanced Users

CCleaner also offers a reliable Registry & Startup Cleaner. Before using these options, however, you should fully understand what you’re doing and configure the application to backup your files.  You can find these options in the Advanced Options menus.



  1. Animis  

    I use this quite often, mostly because I’m lazy and it does everything for me…

  2. @Animis – Some say Lazy, some say smart. It’s all about having the right tool :)

  3. Crew  

    You can also select custom folders or files to be deleted when you press the Run Cleaner button,
    just go to Options > Include > Add Folder/File
    Once you are on this screen you can drag files right onto CCleaner to be added automatically.
    That way it shreds whatever you want!

  4. sarah  

    amazing method n as said previously (( FAST ))

  5. MacGirl  

    I tried to download CCleaner on my Mac… it downloaded, but disappeared from my downloads tab, so I wasn’t able to run the install wizard.. I looked for it in Finder, and it seems to work… but I didn’t have to set it up… it was the free download version for Mac. I don’t have the page with setting, cookies, advanced etc why is this? I only have Cleaner and tools on my side bar also, not registry tools options etc and it says Analyze and Clean on the bottom. Have a I downloaded a partial version? Thanks so much, I know nothing about this, help would be appreciated

  6. 1 potato

  7. jessica  

    okay after stuff is deleted using this device, how can i retrieve it! we use it on our computer very often to help keep the device running smoothly. i know some sites like fb iTunes and limewire cause it to run slow. so after visiting these sites i always use it. but it deletes ALL OF MY HISTORY! i am currently in school and i had not saved a file on firefox that i needed, and my boyfriend ran the cleaner last night before we turned off the device! is there any way i can retrieve the URL?! we are currently on break and i am out of state and can not seem to get a hold of my professor to find out the website! i have a 26-30 page paper due on January 9th and we go back on the 6th! i need help!

  8. Gary  

    I use CCleaner and thing it’s a great tool. However, if you are selling your PC and are concerned about leaving personal data, deleting and overwriting your cache, temp files, recycle bin, etc. isn’t going to do it. As just one example of what could be missed, let’s say you’ve been using the machine for some time. Now you wipe the *current* cache, temp files, etc. What about all the files you’ve written and deleted over the years previous to this? Parts or all of those files may still be there.

    The best thing to do is to wipe everything. Overwrite at least 3 times. Reformat won’t do. Drive wipe software should come with instructions on how to do it – typically you boot off a disc with the wipe utility on it, but you could mount the old disk to a new machine and wipe it there.

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