Don’t let private documents, photos, and videos stored on your phone fall into the wrong hands. We test six tools that delete files permanently.
You can’t mistake what Shredder does – from the moment you hit the home screen, it’s all laid out before you. Across the top half of the screen are quick options to view how much space is taken up by images, videos, music, files, and WhatsApp Media (although you’ll need to sit through an ad to gain access to this one). You’re then free to select these files and add them to the shredding pile.
On the lower half of the screen are four essential options: Shred Files, Shred Free Space, and Shred Internal and External Storage. This is where you’re able to take a more measured approach, selecting multiple files with a classic press-and-hold action before moving them to the shredder.
As with most file shredders in the Google Play store, you’re free to choose how many times a file is ‘shredded’. The British government, for instance. recommends shredding files once, while the US Air Force shreds files three times, plus an additional shred-check. All these methods and more are available in Shredder.
What singles Shredder out from its rivals – and makes it a super-secure choice – is the option to shred a single file up to 35 times (known as the Gutmann method). In our tests, this took around 40 seconds and removed all traces of the file in question. Post-shred, you can view a report detailing key stats about your purge.
As an additional security measure, Shredder also includes password protection, which should stop malicious ne’er-do-wells accessing important documents when your back is turned.
2. Andro Shredder
From the off, Andro Shredder is clean and quick, presenting you with the option to add individual files or an entire directory. You’re then instructed to select the intensity, which determines how many times the app shreds your file, ranging from one to nine, which is the same number used by the German Federal Office for Information Security. We shredded a selection of photos and Word documents, and even on the highest intensity, shredding only took around six seconds.
The app also lets you completely wipe previously used storage space – just select a location and an intensity, then let the app do the rest – which is useful if you’re dumping or selling an old Android device and a factory reset won’t suffice.
Andro Shredder also features a Scheduler that lets you automate weekly or monthly directory shreds and storage wipes, both for your phone and any attached SD cards.
3. True Shredder
True Shredder is a great choice for those who are averse to bells and would rather steer clear of whistles – it does nothing but shred files with a laser-like focus.
What it lacks in features, it makes up for with ease of use – and not just because the tool presents you with a foolproof choice of Images, Videos, Audio, and Files. Click the plus sign to go into any of these categories, choose the files you want to clear, and confirm by pressing the tick.
At this point, where other file shredders ask you to move straight to the shredding process, True Shredder lets you go back and select more files in other categories. You can then bulk-delete them all at once. The app also helps you prevent file restoration by prompting you to delete your cache, but that’s the limit of its extras.
Oh, how we wanted SDelete to make the top of the list. At first glance. it feels modern and powerful, with its File Explorer-like design and familiar method of pressing and holding to delete both single files or entire folders.
Unfortunately, in our tests, it crashed more than once, and it was difficult to pinpoint files we wanted to delete without scrolling through everything else on the phone. Good and frustrating in equal measures.
Shreddit may look like a knock-off SDelete, with its File Explorer navigation, but it’s vastly superior. Tap the menu button to quickly switch between storage Ineatinnc, tinwnInack, and even WhatsApp media.
Delving into the Settings lets you choose how many times the app shreds a file and the default shredding method – ranging from British government protocols to the US Department of Defense. You can also secure the app with a passcode.
6. Secure Delete
Secure Delete feels like a hybrid of True Shredder and Shreddit. It’s very simple to use, with no unnecessary features, and navigation follows the File Explorer format. You start by choosing between clearing files stored internally or on the SD card, then delve into folders within folders to locate your files.
There’s no fear of accidentally removing anything because Secure Delete requests that you confirm every deletion by typing ‘yes’ before the shredding begins.