A Must Have Mac App to Securely and Permanently Erase Files
Over the past few years, technology has really evolved. Every year it gets better and better. With that said, so do the security risks. Stolen and hacked computers, mistakenly sold machines, lack of care when selling old devices…the at-risk list goes on and on.
I’m a big believer in encrypting all data. I’m also a big believer that you want to securely trash sensitive data when you are ready to dispose of it. Before El Capitan was released, Apple included the Securely Erase Trash option. I used this daily, but unfortunately, that option is no longer available. Apple removed this option due to Solid State Drives (SSDs) storing files in a different manner. Apple found it better to remove the Securely Erase Data Menu rather than risk not being able to fully promise that a file would be truly securely deleted due to how SSD’s controller and memory locations act.
Now that my default option to securely erase files has been removed, I need a third party app to do that work. Fortunately, Sergey from MyMixApps has developed Shredo to do this very function and it does not disappoint. With a wonderful super clean and easy-to-use interface, Shredo is now one of my must-have apps.
Shredo is very simply a file shredding utility. It will permanently shred files, folders, and external volumes, like hard drives so that the contents are eliminated and unavailable to anyone. Shredo provides three shredding methods:
- 1-pass – a quick method to securely erase your data. This option deletes access information to your files and writes random bytes over the data once.
- 7-pass – This method writes over your data 7 times and is based on U.S. Department of Defense 5220-20 M standard algorithms. It is a slower option, but more secure than the 1-pass.
- 35-pass – This is the best possible option for securely erasing your files. The 35-pass erases file access info and writes over the data 35 times. This option is based on the Gutmann method for deletion. It is the slowest option so you should be prepared for a lengthy process.
Shredo is very easy to use and is based on the drag and drop method of file management. To delete a file, you simply drag its icon onto the icon of the shredding option you want to use. Then you drop the file there and let the utility do its work. This is one of the easiest methods of file deletion I’ve come across. No messy menus to deal with – just drag, drop, and shred.
One issue you might find when using third-party apps to securely erase files on SSDs is that it can be unreliable and have ill effects the drive’s lifespan. This is why Apple removed the option to do Zero Out Deleted Files, 7-Pass Erase of Deleted Files, and 35-Pass Erase of Deleted Files from their system options. Apple did this all early in El Capitan and even though the above is true, I still believe that using software to help make sure my data has had the best chance of being removed is a necessity. And here is a great example of why. This is the story of a man in Ohio who returned a hard drive to Best Buy as shown on Consumerist.com.
“An Ohio couple had their PC repaired by Best Buy and was told their old hard drive would be drilled with holes and rendered useless. Instead, a few months later, a man called up and said, “My name is Ed. I just bought your hard drive for $25 at a flea market in Chicago.”
The man was able to contact the couple through the info on the drive, including SSNs, bank statements and investment records.
In response, Best Buy said, “”Our company values and places the utmost importance on maintaining the privacy of our customers. We will fully investigate these allegations.”
The reason that story is important is to learn that things happen. People may not keep their words and you need look out for yourself when it comes to your own data security is truly a must nowadays.When asking Sergey if any traces of the files erased using Shredo could be found he told me:
“Drop a file into Shredo. It rewrites the data inside that file with zeroes, eventually what’s left is a zero byte file, after that, the zero byte file is deleted and any reference in the system is unlinked. So recovery software will not be able to find a trace of it.”
When you own a Mac, one of the first things you should do is turn on FileVault it secures the data on your disk by encrypting its contents automatically. By using FileVault and Shredo as a tag team you help eliminate the chance of your data being recovered by unwanted prying eyes.
I did a test yesterday using Mac Data Recovery Guru You can find it in the Mac App Store and get the full version via an in-app purchase. In my test, I downloaded a new file and saved it out a few different times. I then compressed the folder with the movie and text file and proceeded to delete it normally. I also made a few copies of the compressed version. My goal was to see if I could recover any trace of the files. I used Shredo’s 1-pass option on the compressed file and the 35-Pass Gutmann on the folder that held the video file. After my scan of the drive completed, no traces of the recently deleted files appeared.
I’m not going to lead anyone in the wrong direction here when talking about these matters as I believe data protection is a must. I’m not an expert when it comes to securely deleting my data with SSDs so knowing there are apps on the market that can help with this function, put my mind at ease. I’ve been very happy with Shredo’s performance as an app, its ease of use, and clean, modern interface. In my opinion, Shredo is a must-have app.
DOWNLOAD – Shredo – $4.99 – Mac