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What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

Posted July 20, 2013 4:25 PM

From Gizmodo:

We delete files all the time to free up space, or to get rid of pesky evidence, but the whole process is a lot more complicated than it seems from the outside. When you go to "delete" something, you're just pressing the start button on a much more involved, much more random process. So what actually happens to that data?

Read the whole article and watch the video

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Power-User

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#1

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/21/2013 8:01 PM

I just wonder if there is a litigation case here whereby 'delete' does not actually mean 'delete'. If I ever get caught on anything that I have deleted, I may challenge this and see where it goes.

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#2

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/21/2013 9:07 PM

They go to the NSA?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/21/2013 10:23 PM

Yep. All delete does is put them in a file and email it to the NSA where they then look over your deleted stuff to see why you found it necessary to want to get rid of it.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/22/2013 3:48 AM

Damn all my discarded world conquering plans known!

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Guru

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#5

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/22/2013 11:22 AM

Nothing really happens to the data - all those zeros and ones are still there on your hard drive. What happens is that the record (also on your hard drive)that tells your computer the name of the file, the size and location of the file, and the file type is deleted. The 'data' will stay there on the drive until it is overwritten by new data. I believe there are some fairly expensive and difficult ways to recover the old data if it has not been overwritten.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/22/2013 11:36 AM

It's not expensive or difficult. There are commercially available software packages that can recover deleted files from your hard drive/USB stick/compact flash card/etc. as long as the files have not be over-written. I can't remember the name brand of the program my wife purchased, but she didn't pay more than $50 for hers and it has saved her much pain and aggravation in her work when a volume has been corrupted for any number of reasons.

It's only when the files have been overwritten once or twice that it takes the sophisticated skills and equipment ($$$) of a technicial expert to recover the data.

My current understanding is that if you overwrite something three times or more, it is for all intents and purposes gone. Commercial wiping programs usually write random bits five times just for good measure.

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#7

Re: What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

07/25/2013 12:29 PM

I'm wondering who this guy has in mind for watching his video. He uses words like "Purgatory," which a lot of the current "digital" generation probably don't understand without "googling" it. And it's a little over-dramatized, unless someone does get their hands on your HD.

I never delete to the Trash Can. I usually use "Shift" + "Delete," which, while leaving the file intact until the space is used, gets rid of the pointer to the first sector.

I just looked and there are any number of free file "shredders." Years ago I downloaded "Cute File Shredder," but rarely use it. It's name has been changed to AbsoluteShield File Shredder. I don't have a laptop and think the probability is low that my old desktops at home (circa 2004-05) will be stolen. And since most drives are SATA these days, and mine are IDE, less chance someone would seek out the means to peruse my files. The chance of theft probably varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. For each to assess. I don't worry about my work computer, either. It's a small enough town and building security is good.

Actually, if there is something to be concerned about it's if you leave your computer on 24/7 and are also connected to the Internet 24/7. You are now susceptible to probing from the outside world. Ever get an email from a friend that you realize after reading it was not really sent by them? You then realize their mail list has been compromised and their email address is being, and can be, used for whatever purposes the thief/perpetrator wishes. Since most email isn't really secure this can happen even if you aren't connected 24/7. Also, probing can happen while you are surfing and you don't even realize it. That's scarier to me than the status of deleted files.

Because of the built-in capabilities of cell phones they, too, are targets. They are computers in their own right. Couple that with the ability to track them and privacy can sink to quite a low level.

This is becoming common enough that the computer help department here at the university, is getting "hacked" cell phones from students, staff and faculty to "fix."

Wi-fi is also worrisome.

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