Windows 10, 11: beware, the data deletion tool leaves sensitive files on the hard drive

The Windows Data Eraser Tool isn’t as good as it looks. Indeed, a report by engineer Rudy Ooms reveals that he creates a folder on the new partition of the OS containing a number of files belonging to the old version. In some cases, some formerly encrypted files are now freely accessible.

Windows includes a number of tools for automatically deleting . Some of them are used to get rid of unnecessary files taking up space on the storage disk, while others are more radical and have the role of cleaning up. When trying to properly reinstall the operating system, it is for example possible to go through the utility located in Update and security > Recovery > Reset this PC > Delete everything (on Windows 10, the first tab is replaced by System on Windows 11 ).

However, we do not really advise you to use it. Indeed, engineer Rudy Ooms made a somewhat embarrassing discovery regarding the latter. While the tool is supposed to remove everything, it leaves behind a whole bunch of files that sometimes include sensitive data. When the operation is complete, the utility creates a folder on the new partition called Windows.old , in which files from the old system are stored. As Rudy Ooms reminds us, the tool is supposed to “delete all data and settings from this device. »


Worse still: some encrypted files are now readable without constraint on the new system. In other words, the utility is currently not a viable solution if you want to protect confidential data. Note that the problem has been spotted in Windows 10 21 h 2 and Windows 11 21 h 2 , and that the 21 h 1 versions of the two operating systems, on the other hand, work perfectly.

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Microsoft has not yet deployed a fix for this issue. Fortunately, Rudy Ooms has programmed his own Powershell script that can completely reset a storage disk, thus serving as a temporary solution. If you find any trace of the Windows.old folder, a simple permanent deletion should do the trick. We still advise you to go through a third-party cleaning tool to be sure .

Source: Rudy Ooms

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