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File::Overwrite - overwrite the contents of a file and optionally unlink it


    use File::Overwrite qw(overwrite);
    # haha, now no-one will know I stole it


This module provides a few simple functions for overwriting data files. This will protect against the simplest forms of file recovery.


This module makes all kinds of assumptions about your system - how the disks work, how the filesystem works, and so on. Even if it does overwrite the actual disk blocks containing the original data, this will not necessarily protect you against someone with sufficient equipment and/or determination. If you want to stop forensic recovery of the data, don't put it on a computer in the first place. If you have already put it on a computer, I recommend melting all your disks.


All of the following functions can be exported if you wish. However, none are exported by default. All take a filename as their only parameter (any subsequent params are ignored) and die if that file can't be fiddled with. In case of failure, the file may be left fractionally fiddled.


Overwrites the file.

Overwrites and unlinks the file.


None known. Please report any that you find using

You should be aware, however, that the tests are only rudimentary. There is no portable way of determining whether a file's data really is overwritten so I don't try very hard.

On Win32 you can't delete files that are open. This is a bug in the operating system, not in this module.


I like to know who's using my code. All comments, including constructive criticism, are welcome. Please email me.


Daniel Muey, for reporting some bugs and misfeatures, see



Copyright 2008 David Cantrell <>

This module was written in response to a post by 'fluffyvoidwarrior' on perlmonks.

This software is free-as-in-speech software, and may be used, distributed, and modified under the terms of either the GNU General Public Licence version 2 or the Artistic Licence. It's up to you which one you use. The full text of the licences can be found in the files GPL2.txt and ARTISTIC.txt, respectively.


This module is also free-as-in-mason software.