I am fairly new to Linux but all I can say is I love it!!! :D

Anyways, I am trying to securely erase 1000s of files from my harddrive because new year is approaching and I want a fresh start to life. As in remove toxic files, toxic photos etc

I am currently using the Linux wipe command as in sudo wipe -rcfbut it is taking FOREVER.

I believe because it is doing a wipe 34 times according to Guttmans Algorithm. I appreciate it is good but are there any quicker alternatives that are safe deletion. I am new to it all as in cyber security but I learnt worrying enough that doing the rm command on Linux or even permanently deleting from Windows recycle bin isn't safe and is still recoverable as it just hides the files. Hell I am recovering old files haha of my younger self

  • What do you want to guard against, exactly? Are you planning to sell your hard drive? Do you want to prevent the DoD from recovering your old files? Overwriting the data with zeros is enough to stop all but the most determined of enemies; it's highly unlikely you actually need anything beyond that. For actual fully 100% unrecoverable data, guaranteed, you need to physically destroy the hard drive. – Wildcard Dec 24 '19 at 1:50
  • @Wildcard just a form of secure deletion nothing too crazy of course haha. after all some form of secure deletion is better than none. its just i wanna change myself after the new year and wanna get rid of like old pics of myself – n00bl1nux Dec 24 '19 at 1:52
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    Correction to my previous comment: overwriting with zeros just once is sufficient to stop all attackers, but only if every copy of the data is actually overwritten. Which is difficult, perhaps impossible, to guarantee for a single file. – Wildcard Dec 24 '19 at 2:01

if your disk is a solid state disk (SSD) with trim enabled then you are wasting your time, and reducing the life of the SSD, by doing any manual single or multi pass write to the SSD. Read up on TRIM and understand what that technically entails....



Basically, with TRIM feature the user’s solid state drive (SSD) can improve computer performance. However, this function will make the data recovery impossible. When a user deletes any data from a TRIM-enabled SSD, then the drive will clear all the sectors immediately and permanently... the new generations of SSD’s mostly come with the TRIM feature enabled. Thus, when any data is deleted by the user that data is removed at once for forever.

be aware the quoted explanation is not entirely accurate: when data deleted by user the data is removed at once and forever. The data is only removed forever when the TRIM process happens, and the TRIM process does not happen after every rm -r myfolder command. There are ways to force TRIM to manually happen via hdparm

If you have a spinning disk, then the faster way is to replace it with an SSD and make use of TRIM. In linux an alternative to wipe is shred; you could also use the good old dban booted from dvd; but in any case with a spinning disk you will be at the mercy of the typical ~100MB/sec write speed of it and whatever the size of it is.

the fastest way of course is just amazon a new disk, and physically destroy the old one(s)


Right so I checked out the API manual page for the wipe command and it turns out that the q flags option enables quick wipe.

Thus, running the following command wipe -rcfq file_name/directory in a Linux command line terminal -- would in turn actually go for 4 passes as opposed to Gutmanns 34.

Hope this helps because it most certainly helped me!

wipe -rfcq -Q 1 FILES

The reason, why a single wipe was not enough on old (1990) HDD drives was that magnetic tracks were wide and head positioning inaccurate, so there could be some bits of information left at the edges that could be recovered after disassembly with special equipment.

However as far as I understood it, modern drives with their ultra high density only need a single overwrite to leave the data unrecoverable.

  • I am getting the following error when trying to delete entire directory Invocation error (-h for help): option -Q useless without -q – n00bl1nux Dec 24 '19 at 11:01
  • Thanks. That is what I get for just reading the manual and not trying it. Updated. – Bernhard M. Dec 24 '19 at 21:40

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