Browse Definitions:
Definition

file shredder

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A file shredder, also known as a virtual or digital shredder, is a program designed to render computer-based files unreadable, just as a conventional shredder makes physical documents unreadable.

In most operating systems, when a user deletes a file, it still exists on the hard drive but is made inaccessible through normal means. What’s actually deleted is the operating system’s pointer to the file, so it’s invisible to the user but still exists in storage. The storage space for the file is considered available and that may cause the data to be overwritten, although it is not possible to know that it has been.

It may be possible to recover the original data unless overwriting has taken place hundreds of times. Deleted files can be recovered through readily available freeware programs such as Recuva and Puran File Recovery as well as professional software such as EnCase that data recovery and law enforcement officials use.

File shredders are similar to hard drive overwriters except that they work with individual files, rather than effectively obliterating the entire drive. The programs overwrite the content in a file multiple times with zeroes, ones and random bits to ensure that the data is unrecoverable other than through extraordinary efforts.

If it’s crucial that data is obliterated, the only way to be sure it can’t be accessed is to physically destroy the device. The most effective way to ensure complete data destruction is to pulverize the assembly, in much the same way as a wood chipper disposes of tree limbs and brush. At a minimum, hard drive shredding involves severing every track on every platter in a drive. Hard drive shredding products and services exist for this purpose.

In the enterprise, ensuring that the sensitive information in deleted files cannot be recovered is essential to information security, compliance and data governance.  

This was last updated in September 2015

Continue Reading About file shredder

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • computer exploit

    A computer exploit, or exploit, is an attack on a computer system, especially one that takes advantage of a particular ...

  • cyberwarfare

    Cyberwarfare is computer- or network-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks by a nation-state on another ...

  • insider threat

    Insider threat is a generic term for a threat to an organization's security or data that comes from within.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder)

    OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) is open source software designed to create and manage a service that provides persistent data ...

  • SATA Express (SATAe)

    SATA Express (SATAe or Serial ATA Express) is a bus interface to connect storage devices to a computer motherboard, supporting ...

  • DIMM (dual in-line memory module)

    A DIMM (dual in-line memory module) is the standard memory card used in servers and PCs.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid flash array

    A hybrid flash array is a solid-state storage system that contains a mix of flash memory drives and hard disk drives.

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc.

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

Close