Really, where do the deleted files go? This is a simple question, the general answer for which is almost a lie. The general belief is that the files we delete from our computers disappear in thin air like they it never existed.
Do the deleted files fly out of the computer or phone memory? Or does it gets erased like a pencil writing on a paper?
In reality, it does not work this way. What if I, tell you “delete” does not actually deletes the data from your computer. Yeah, I know that the deleted data goes first in the “Recycle Bin” but even if you “delete” data from the recycle bin, the data is still on your Hard drive.
Now at this particular moment, many of the techie readers might be having thoughts like, “yeah yeah genius, I know the data is still on the hard drive, that’s what the Data Recovery Softwares are for.” If you’re having this thought, you’re a 100% right. However some people do have another question coming to mind at this moment.
If the data is still there on the computer hard drive, why the hell does it show empty space?
Answer: When you delete something from the hard drive, the computer does not deletes or erases the data. It just deletes the pointers that point to that particular data or file. Now as the data is removed from the index, the computer believes the space is free.
For understanding easily you might think of this as the table of content of a book. If someone erases the name of one of the chapters of a book, the person reading (in our case the computer) the book will not know if any such chapter exists.
However if the reader digs in enough and spends enough time, he or she would ultimately find the chapter whose “pointer” or the name from contents was deleted. This is basically how the Data Recovery programs work.
Okay, so if the computer only deletes the so called pointers to the data and not the “actual data” it means that data is taking up space on my hard drive, right? What happens when I bring in new data and want to use up that space? Does the old data now finally goes away or is my hard drive bigger than I was told?
Answer: When you copy new files or data on the same sectors of the hard drive, the new data overwrites the older data. The older data is still there coexisting with the newer data.
Question: Doesn’t this corrupts data, making it complex to read as different information is stored on the same sectors?
Answer: Remember we talked about pointers? The computer has deleted the pointers to old data and now it only has the pointers to new data. So basically even if it’s a mess on the sectors with old and new data, the computers only pull out the newer information or data and simply ignores the older one(with no pointers).
Question: Alright, now this is tricky. If the data does not get deleted for real and the Data Recovery Softwares can bring it back, how am I supposed to erase something permanently from my Hard drive so no one can find a trace of it. P.S Destroying the Hard Drive is not an option.
Answer: The only way to delete data from your hard drive permanently is to overwrite the data again and again till it becomes absolutely untraceable. This can be done easily with the help of Data deletion softwares. Some people believe 3-5 times of overwriting is enough while some believe 30-40 times.
Whatever might be the case, “deleting” never actually erases a file, overwriting does. Hope you enjoyed the article. Please do comment if you have any questions or suggestions