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Is "Eraser" by Heidi Software better / safer than CCleaner


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#1 OFFLINE corp

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:32 PM

I am a user of both Eraser (http://www.heidi.ie/node/6) and CCleaner for several years. Both are free (and I have donated to both!).

Eraser is considered exceptionally strong - recommended by many tech types.

This may be demonstrated by the fact that running Eraser to wipe free disk space takes a full day on my computer - while CCleaner gets the same job done in less than an hour! Both are set of course at the SAME number of passes / over-writes.

So...if CCleaner is JUST AS EFFECTIVE in wiping free disk space as Eraser, how can it possibly achieve the SAME OUTCOME in only 1/24 of the time?

Why would this occur?

What I am seeking is the the PROOF that CCleaner is protecting me as effectively as ANY software (in this case "ERASER") could protect me in wiping free disk space.

I'll take anyone's ideas - including Piriform Support. Thank you all for your time.

#2 OFFLINE Nergal

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 03:36 PM

Try the following things

Recuva After Using Ccleaner and after using Eraser

Not posting in forums in text so large that it's members want to hurt you
ADVICE FOR USING CCleaner'S REGISTRY INTEGRITY SECTION
DON'T JUST CLEAN EVERYTHING THAT'S CHECKED OFF.
Do your Registry Cleaning in small bits (at the very least Check-mark by Check-mark)
ALWAYS BACKUP THE ENTRY, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU'LL BREAK IF YOU DON'T.
CCLEANER, RECUVA, DEFRAGGLER AND SPECCY DOCUMENTATION CAN BE FOUND AT www.piriform.com/docs
Link to Winapp2.ini explanation

#3 OFFLINE corp

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:33 PM

Thanks for the reply Nergal. Yes - Recuva may reveal something. But what I would be concerned about is if a professional thief and hacker gets their hands on my hard drive - would in fact I be better protected with Eraser. Again - why would Eraser take 24 hours to do the same job that is apparently done by CCleaner in only 1 hour? Is this the proof that Eraser is in fact more thorough?

Again yes - the large type size was an error!!! Good point. Never again!

#4 OFFLINE Alan_B

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 08:10 AM

Speed does not indicate effectiveness.

e.g.
Solve A = B * 2
The time taken to evaluate the value of A will be determined by :-
Program language - e.g Basic interpreter running a batch script from a floppy disc, or a 'C' compiled program;
The data type - e.g. floating point or 8 bit integer arithmetic;
The value of B.

Solve A = B * C
Even if C is given the value of 2, the time taken may exceed the time taken to solve A = B * 2.

I believe CCleaner is coded in C++, which is good for high speed.
Heidi may use something other than C++.
The language used has no effect upon how accurately it meets requirements,
only how fast it performs.

Before there was Windows, I had a 1 inch thick stack of fan-folded print-out listing innumerable DOS entry points for pretty will everything.
Some did similar things to others.
Windows NT probably has many more ways of doing the same things.

Perhaps CCleaner uses system entry points that are different from Heidi's chosen set.
Different entry points will probably affect speed, but this does NOT indicate effectiveness.

If you want to test effectiveness, I suggest :-
Create an empty TEST folder;
Select a TEST file, and copy to the TEST folder as file Test_Copy
Delete this test file from the test folder;
Use a file recovery tool (e.g. RECUVA) to confirm that the file is available for recovery;
Use a CCleaner Wipe Free Space;
Use the file recovery tool to see if the wipe was successful, or if it can still retrieve Test_Copy

Repeat the entire above test sequence, using Heidi instead of CCleaner Wipe Free Space.

I strongly suspect that no File recovery tool is likely to retrieve Test_Copy,
even if you used the fast wipe option of a single pass.

Some file recovery tools can focus upon a designated folder, which could reduce the search / report time.
A certain way to cut your test down from 24 hours to only 1 minute is to create 1 very small test partition for the wipe test.

There are a tremendous number of file recovery programs,
some of which may be more successful than others,
depending upon lots of things,
but a single overwrite is likely to stop them all.

Special multi-pass Wipe over-writing improves protection against sophisticated tools developed by the security services, especially if they have your drive physically opened up in their laboratories.
They probably can force the reading of a track with various amounts of offset from the nominal track radius,
and thus focus upon what was written by stray fields.

I believe they can also analyse the surface of the disc with specialised microscopes, totally free from any normal constraints imposed by the limitations of the Windows operating system or the electro-mechanical head position mechanism.
The professional thief or hacker is unlikely to have such facilities,
and even if he did it would take far more time to penetrate your system,
than it would to steal and attack 100 alternative computers that had not been wiped.

Regards
Alan

#5 OFFLINE corp

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 01:20 PM

Alan:

Very nice job on the detailed response. Good of you to take the time.

I understand your logic.
I read in a variety of places at one time that all disk erasers are not created equally - and that even those that all claim to use Guttmann for example, may not be equally effective in the application of Guttmann. I do not have enough technical knowledge to understand the specifics behind that statement however - nor have I read any actual explanations.
I even read some place that while CCleaner is very user friendly, etc., it may not be as "strong" as other erasers out there.
I do not doubt that Recova will likely NOT be able to recover both efforts conducted side by side - that is the Eraser vs. The CCleaner - and both programs will show that they have accomplished the task.
Your last points though hit on the answer though - that there are sophisticated approaches to data recovery that cannot be defeated. Was that your point?

And therefore, if someone truly wants to read what was on my hard drive - they can get it - even if I use Guttmann (with the 35 passes)? If the answer is "yes", than that's really it - I can only take a "consumer-level-approach" to try and protect my data - but only expect that the average idiot thief will be defeated - and not sophisticated techies with money and hardware examination tools.
Or....is there really some software out there that does in fact make it impossible for ANYONE to recover data?

I think I am answering my own question!

In any case, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response.

With appreciation and regards from the "Colonies"....Corp.




Speed does not indicate effectiveness.

e.g.
Solve A = B * 2
The time taken to evaluate the value of A will be determined by :-
Program language - e.g Basic interpreter running a batch script from a floppy disc, or a 'C' compiled program;
The data type - e.g. floating point or 8 bit integer arithmetic;
The value of B.

Solve A = B * C
Even if C is given the value of 2, the time taken may exceed the time taken to solve A = B * 2.

I believe CCleaner is coded in C++, which is good for high speed.
Heidi may use something other than C++.
The language used has no effect upon how accurately it meets requirements,
only how fast it performs.

Before there was Windows, I had a 1 inch thick stack of fan-folded print-out listing innumerable DOS entry points for pretty will everything.
Some did similar things to others.
Windows NT probably has many more ways of doing the same things.

Perhaps CCleaner uses system entry points that are different from Heidi's chosen set.
Different entry points will probably affect speed, but this does NOT indicate effectiveness.

If you want to test effectiveness, I suggest :-
Create an empty TEST folder;
Select a TEST file, and copy to the TEST folder as file Test_Copy
Delete this test file from the test folder;
Use a file recovery tool (e.g. RECUVA) to confirm that the file is available for recovery;
Use a CCleaner Wipe Free Space;
Use the file recovery tool to see if the wipe was successful, or if it can still retrieve Test_Copy

Repeat the entire above test sequence, using Heidi instead of CCleaner Wipe Free Space.

I strongly suspect that no File recovery tool is likely to retrieve Test_Copy,
even if you used the fast wipe option of a single pass.

Some file recovery tools can focus upon a designated folder, which could reduce the search / report time.
A certain way to cut your test down from 24 hours to only 1 minute is to create 1 very small test partition for the wipe test.

There are a tremendous number of file recovery programs,
some of which may be more successful than others,
depending upon lots of things,
but a single overwrite is likely to stop them all.

Special multi-pass Wipe over-writing improves protection against sophisticated tools developed by the security services, especially if they have your drive physically opened up in their laboratories.
They probably can force the reading of a track with various amounts of offset from the nominal track radius,
and thus focus upon what was written by stray fields.

I believe they can also analyse the surface of the disc with specialised microscopes, totally free from any normal constraints imposed by the limitations of the Windows operating system or the electro-mechanical head position mechanism.
The professional thief or hacker is unlikely to have such facilities,
and even if he did it would take far more time to penetrate your system,
than it would to steal and attack 100 alternative computers that had not been wiped.

Regards
Alan



#6 OFFLINE Robbie

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 03:22 PM

Eraser cleans the cluster tips (what was once known as file slack) as well as free space. Depending on the amount of files you have on your computer this can double the length of time that Eraser will take to run, although in the case of the original poster it seems to increase that time by several hours!

What pass method are you running on Eraser (and presumably therefore CCleaner)? Are you sure that you are clicking both the Free Space option under Application then choosing the drive(s) to wipe free space on under Options - Settings?

I have an 80GB hard drive, running Windows XP, SP3, with 3 partitions. I have used both CCleaner and Eraser and the times each program takes to complete a free space wipe are:

Eraser

Method: 1 pass pseudorandom (PNRG) wipe : 1.5 hours in total for all 3 partitions. This includes cluster wipes as well as free space wipes on each partition.

CCleaner

Method: I have the default wipe setting for CCleaner as 7 pass secure deletion (NSA). When I've done a free space wipe I've unticked every other option (eg Windows programs, other applications) so I've just been doing a free space wipe, again on all 3 partitions, one after the other. The total time is about 1 hour which is pretty much on par with Eraser less the cluster tip wipes times, albeit Eraser is only doing a 1 pass PRNG method wipe compared with the 7 pass secure wipe CCleaner is set to. I don't know whether CCleaner really is doing a 7 pass Free Space wipe, though I assume it must be as that is the chosen option. I assume that CCleaner is just a lot quicker at what it does when doing a free space wipe.


I've also ran both on my Vista laptop, same hard drive size (80GB) and the running time for both wasn't that much different - about 5 to 10 minutes at most perhaps.

#7 OFFLINE Augeas

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 03:54 PM

I believe that CC wipe uses one pass of zeroes, no matter what you specify elsewhere. What would happen if you chose Normal Deletion?

I'm not competent to answer the original question, and I don't think that anyone on the forum is either (excluding Piriform employees). How do we know what CC or Eraser is actually doing?

Out of interest, if a large file is being allocated (the apparent method of choice for disk wiping) then doesn't it fill all the slack space (file tips) anyway?

#8 OFFLINE corp

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 04:37 PM

Thanks Augeas and Robbie for your time and thoughts as well.

I am not sure there is really a way for any of us to determine the answer to my original question. Maybe in fact the language used to write the two programs was different as suggested earlier by Alan (C++ vs C+).

But I did, in response to your question - eliminate the variables. I ran both programs - Eraser and CCleaner at 7 wipes, cluster tips included. And yes - Eraser spends a lot of time on Cluster tips. It just seems from the literature that Eraser is more sophisticated - and therefore, my assumption, better (?) at wiping for finality.

I do not use the Pseudo random setting 1 pass thing - as I read in several places once that that apporach could be less ecure than multiple passes. And yes I know there is some controversy and strong opinions on both sides.

So - thanks again for your time. I'll probably just end up using BOTH to wipe!!! (Now there's a waste of life, huh?)

Take care.



I believe that CC wipe uses one pass of zeroes, no matter what you specify elsewhere. What would happen if you chose Normal Deletion?

I'm not competent to answer the original question, and I don't think that anyone on the forum is either (excluding Piriform employees). How do we know what CC or Eraser is actually doing?

Out of interest, if a large file is being allocated (the apparent method of choice for disk wiping) then doesn't it fill all the slack space (file tips) anyway?



#9 OFFLINE Groucho2

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 10:09 AM

So - thanks again for your time. I'll probably just end up using BOTH to wipe!!! (Now there's a waste of life, huh?)

Take care.


Good idea. If you think you're paranoid, the Fed's will degauss their drive, remove the platter, smash it up into tiny pieces, and then store it in a vault. It appears they've been up to some very naughty stuff if they go through all that. :lol:

Birdman