If you are a long time internet user, you have surely experienced this: You are navigating through a new or unfamiliar website, where you happen to click a button or perform an action that suddenly causes a file to be downloaded to your hard drive. Are you suspicious of the file? Of course you are! How then can you get rid of such a file, or any file for that matter, permanently? Read on to find out.
The usual way of deleting a file is to select it by clicking on it, and then hitting the delete key. Deleting a file in this manner simply places it in the recycle bin, which then needs to be emptied manually in order for the file to be really deleted. But does this truly delete the file? No it does not. All it means is that the file is no longer displayed, but it still exists on the hard drive.
Microsoft offers the following trick to “permanently” delete files: select a file and then press Shift + Delete. If you do this, the file will not go to the recycle bin; it will get deleted right away. But again, this trick does not really delete the file from the hard drive. Moreover, after accidentally downloading an executable file (a file with an.exe extension) to your computer, you will find that it is running and can’t be deleted.
Here’s the correct way to permanently delete files that were downloaded to your hard drive:
1. Kill the process. Often, executable files start running as soon as they are downloaded. This is a clear sign of virus activity. Start the task manager by pressing control +alt +delete, and under the “processes” tab, look for an active process with the same name as that of the downloaded file. Select the process, right-click on it, and opt to “end process”. This will terminate the execution of the program.
2. Delete the file. This can be done the usual way, by deleting the file and then clearing the recycle bin, or by using Microsoft’s “trick” of selecting the file and then pressing Shift + Delete. This ensures that the file is no longer displayed.
3. Defragment the hard drive. This is the meat and the bones of the process. Open an explorer window, select the drive in which the file was downloaded; let’s say the D drive – D:\. Select D:\, right-click on it, click on properties and under the “Tools” tab, and click on “Defragment Now”. Now sit back and relax while the program defragments and rearranges the data on your hard drive. What happens is that it reorganizes the data on your drive in such a way that it optimizes the way your data can be accessed and retrieved. It is only when you do this, that your old data as well as files are overwritten by existing data as well as blank space. This will ensure that your downloaded file is erased and overwritten.
This then is the best and safest way of deleting downloads. Good luck!