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Solutions: Deleted files stay on PC's hard drive

Q: I have been told that when you delete files, send to the recycle bin or delete an e-mail, it remains on the computer's hard drive. Is there any way to totally erase items from the hard drive? I have sensitive business data that I would not like anyone else to be able to obtain, such as if my computer were stolen.

A: You are correct. Although an entry is made in the master file index that allows the space taken up by deleted items to be reused, the actual data is still on the hard disk until it is overwritten. The "secure delete" programs that are available will write usually zeros to the area occupied by the file that is being deleted. This is a simplistic explanation, and things get a little more complicated when encrypted or compressed files and file cache considerations are involved, which is where some of the better "secure delete/erase" programs have their niche. Do a Google search on "secure file delete" to browse the applications for purchase or download to help secure your files.

Q: I just purchased a desktop computer with Microsoft Vista Premium. My Windows XP Professional laptop is now my backup computer. I had no problems transferring files to the new computer. I would like to have the same e-mail on both computers. Is it possible to convert the Microsoft Mail format to the Outlook Express format?

A: From Microsoft Windows Mail on the Vista PC, click File, Export, Messages. Choose "Microsoft Windows Mail" format and click Next. Click the Browse button to navigate to a folder to store your selected e-mails. Click Next and then select All Folders or selected individual folders to export. Click Next and your Windows Mail e-mail messages will be exported to the selected folder as individual .EML files. Copy these to your Windows XP laptop, open Outlook Express and then just drag and drop the individual .EML files into the appropriate Outlook Express folder (use the shift key to select multiples or Ctrl-A to select all .EML files before dragging). As far as future e-mails being concurrent, most likely once an e-mail is downloaded from your ISP to one PC, it won't be available to the other, so you may need to repeat these steps to keep them concurrent.

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