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About

RAW Trash

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RAW Trash screenshotIn many respects the Mac's user interface is fantastic, but it's not perfect and it has a few irritating features too. For example, there is no easy way to delete a file. Of course, you can send it to the Trash, but that's not deleting it, it's simply moving it elsewhere.

To actually delete the file you must empty the Trash. However, this deletes all the files in the Trash folder and not just the one you want to delete. The whole point of the Trash folder is to store deleted files just in case you discover that you actually need something and want to recover it. If you empty the Trash you lose the ability to recover any deleted files!

The Trash can be very frustrating - you want to delete a file, perhaps because it is very large like a video clip and you need the disk space, or it contains personal information like bank or credit card details and you would rather not leave it lying around the hard disk drive. You can't delete the file without emptying the whole Trash.

The problem is particularly bad if you use a USB flash memory drive. These have a limited amount of space, such as 1Gb. When it gets full you would think that you could delete files you no longer need to free up space, but that doesn't work. The files are simply moved to a hidden .Trashes folder and they stay on the drive using up disk space. The USB flash memory drive is still full and there's no room for anything else. You have to empty the Trash - the whole Trash, including files you might want to keep just in case you need them - to free up the space.

RAW Trash solves the problem by allowing you to deletes files.

Requirements: Apple Mac, OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6

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How to use RAW Trash

You can drag files from any Finder window and then drop them on the RAW Trash window. They aren't immediately deleted and you can go to another folder and drag more files to the RAW Trash window. When you are ready to delete the files and folders, just click the Delete button and they are deleted - really deleted and not just moved to the Trash folder.

The Trash is just another folder on the disk (although it's a special type), and you can open it and drag one or more files or folders to RAW Trash window to delete them. This enables you to delete single or multiple items from the Trash folder without having to empty the whole Trash.

RAW Trash displays a list of the files it is about to delete before proceeding, just so you don't accidentally delete the wrong ones. After all, deleting files in RAW Trash does not send them to the Trash and you can't recover them - that's what it's for! If you change your mind and don't want to delete the files/folders, just click the Clear button to clear the list.

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Preferences

Secure deletion with RAW TrashGo to the RAW Trash menu and select Preferences to change the settings. You can choose to securely delete files and this means that even with sophisticated file recover tools, no-one will be able to recover your deleted files. It takes a little longer to delete files because they are overwritten before being removed, but you may consider it to be worth it for the extra security it gives you.

There's an option to automatically delete files in the Trash that are older than a certain number of days or larger than a certain size. This is useful for keeping the Trash folder under control.

For example, you might choose to automatically delete files older than 30 days. After all, if you haven't needed to recover a file for 30 days, you probably won't ever need to recover it, so you may as well delete it and free up the disk space.

Suppose you do a lot of video editing, you don't want lots of huge files in the Trash using up valuable disk space. You could automatically delete files larger than 1000 Mb (1Gb).

The Trash is scanned whenever the program is started, so if you run RAW Trash once a day it will keep the Trash folder trimmed.

Secure deletion

When a file is deleted on a hard disk drive it isn't really deleted and the space it occupies is simply marked as free. There is lots of free space on the disk and the operating system might not use that particular bit for some time. Until that bit of the disk is used to store another file, the original file can still be recovered. This is a security risk and you don't want someone to be able to recover personal or private information. Some files should therefore be deleted in such a way that they can never be recovered.

There are many schemes for securely deleting a file on a hard disk drive and Peter Gutmann is famous for inventing a 35-pass method that writes a series of patterns to the disk. However, that method was invented in the mid 1990s and hard disk drive technology has moved on since then. The bit density of modern disks is so high that once a file has been overwritten - just once - it's nearly impossible to recover. Peter Gutmann and experts at data recovery companies now say that overwriting a file just once is all that's needed to ensure that no-one can ever recover it and that 35 passes is just a waste of time.

RAW Trash uses the built in secure deletion function of OS X. This overwrites files once before deleting them and it's the same as when you choose to securely empty the Trash.

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