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What Happens to Deleted Data?

December 31, 2015

Trash. Something we are all familiar with. It gets picked up weekly, and then it disappears from our lives and we never see it again.

But this is not the case for files on a computer storage drive.

You move a file to the trash, or recycle bin, and it is simply moved into another storage file.

So, you say, “Okay, well I can delete my trash.” Your computer notifies you that you are about to make a permanent change, right?

Wrong. The files are not EASILY accessible. But the keyword here is, “Easily.”

How is this possible?

All of the data that composes your photos, documents etc. is scattered all over the place. The Master File Table simply provides your computer with a reference to the data. So when you recycle or trash something, you are only removing the Master File Table Reference to the pieces of data that make up the entire file.

It creates space by giving the operating system permission to write over the old data. Yet this hardly means that (especially right after you clean out your recycle bin) that the file is really gone.

Furthermore, there are many programs specially created to reconstruct old files. But we asked for this…otherwise we would have many, many accidents, resulting in lost files and documents…whew!

But, if it’s important that you permanently delete something, say if you will be selling or donating it, here’s what you can do:

1. delete all data from the drive

2. fill it up to capacity with random, new data

3. Repeat

4. Repeat over and over again and again

Or:

1. Physically destroy the drive

Watch these funny guys explain it on video:

Want to know more about how to keep your existing data safe? 

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