Check tutorial of Secure Remove Files & Directories from Mac OS X with the Command Line
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Do you want to safely delete a file, group of files, or entire directory so that you can be sure that it can hardly ever be recovered in a known way? You can do this easily from the command line using an incredibly powerful tool called srm. srm, as you may have guessed, stands for ‘secure removal’, and is a safe version of the widely used ‘rm’ command that exists in almost every flavor of unix, including Mac OS X. Please note that this utility is not for everyone and certainly not for novice users. Srm should be considered an advanced tool and it is best used by those who are familiar with the command line and understand the data replications of secure delete functions.
How secure is SRM? Well, the standard for safe deletion is the incredibly secure 35-pass method that uses the “35-pass Gutmann algorithm” which basically means deleting the data first and then writing it 35 times using randomly generated patterns , making recovery quite literally impossible. To compare how secure that is, srm also has a ‘medium’ option setting that uses 7-pass security, and 7-pass complies with the US Department of Defense standard for securely erasing data. .. so, theoretically at least, the 35-pass method is 7 times more secure than what the US DoD accepts as their standard for securely deleting data. However, we are not going to focus on the medium option, we are going to use srm as it was intended, with full 35 pass data deletion.
Only for advanced users
This is not called “safe delete” for no reason, it is called that because if a file is deleted with safe delete, you will literally never be able to recover that file from the disk. Period of time. This goes far beyond the basics tricks from emptying the trash or even forcibly throwing and deleting files that way. Users unfamiliar with the command line but who want to keep secure file deletion options should consider using a simple method of secure deletion, or by using the “Always Secure Empty Trash” option which instead of it is available for the Mac OS X Finder. You have been warned, proceed with caution!
Safely Delete a file with srm
At its simplest, the srm command is used by simply pointing it to a file or file path:
srm / path / to / file
Because the default option uses 35-pass, file deletion can take a while and larger files take longer to delete, because equal-sized passes are used to overwrite the file and prevent recovery.
Safe Delete an entire directory
The -r flag can be applied to srm to remove it recursively, making it applied to directories and their contents: srm -r / path / to / directory /
Again, deletion may take a while as everything will be overwritten 35 times after it is deleted.
Force delete everything safely
The -f flag adds forced deletion to srm. This is one of the more ‘dangerous’ commands as it resembles ‘rm -rf’ on steroids, which means it will forcibly delete everything it is indicated on, without any prompt, except the addition of safe deletion causes the deleted file is absolutely never recoverable. Be extremely careful.
srm -rf / file / to / destroy / of / everything
Due to the enormous power behind the -rf flag combination, it should only be used by advanced users and with absolute precision.
Forcibly and securely delete a protected or proprietary file with Super User
By prefixing sudo to the above -rf flag variant of srm, you can grant super user (root) privileges to the forced file and directory deletion process, overriding any ownership issues or file locking. This is as safe and as ‘dangerous’ as possible because of the superuser access. Be extremely careful and don’t use this unless you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it:
sudo srm -rf / path / to / something / to / destroy / from / exist /
Again, this is for advanced users only and should be limited with accurate file and folder paths.
How about safely removing everything?
While srm accepts wildcards, there is clearly huge potential for errors with such an approach, and it does not format the drive. So if you want to safely delete everything on a computer from an internal boot drive to an external drive of any type, you can make much better use of the safe format utilities for an entire drive bundled in Disk Utility, offering the option of secure formatting with 35 passages.
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