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Find Out What REALLY Happens When You Delete Your Data

You understand that the Recycle Bin is the place where deleted files go, and you know that emptying the Recycle Bin is how you dispose of files that you no longer need. What you might not know is that emptying your Recycle Bin does not guarantee that your files are gone at all, and that they’re probably still available on your PC.

The problem here is that you have to go through an extraordinarily complex process in order to truly “delete” files from your devices or hardware. Deleted files can still be accessed if someone knows where to look. This usually happens in the form of law enforcement personnel, like detectives, digging through a suspect’s computer. Even if these criminals deleted files from their computers, law enforcement knows that deleted data isn’t necessarily “deleted.”

When you drag your files from one location to another, like when you move your files to the Recycle Bin, you aren’t moving every single piece of data associated with that file. Instead, it’s just redirecting your computer to where to access the data, which could be in several places scattered across the hard drive.

TechQuickie explains how this works: “The way your operating system knows where to find all the pieces [of your data] is… through the reference to it on the Master File Table. So back to deleting stuff, removing a file from the Recycle Bin, only removes the Master File Table reference that points to the pieces that make up that file puzzle, and registers that space that it used to take up as ‘empty.’ This gives the operating system permission to write over it, but that does not mean that, right after you clean out your Recycle Bin, that the file is gone. Not by a long shot.”

If a criminal were to delete incriminating files from their PC and they didn’t take the opportunity to perform any additional activity on their PC, this information hasn’t been overwritten and can still be pieced together by law enforcement. Detectives and law enforcement agencies are in possession of special programs that help them perform such feats, accessing deleted information that’s scattered across hard drives to piece together the entire file.

By this same logic, it’s imperative that you contact a trusted IT professional, like those at NTConnections, before you assume that data is deleted from your hard drive. This is especially important following a data loss disaster, like a hardware failure. Depending on how severe the disaster is, we might be able to use the same tools that detectives use in order to put your files back together, but of course, we can’t make any guarantees.

The best way to approach data recovery is to revert to a recently backed-up copy. This is why it’s so important to routinely back up your company’s data. We recommend that organizations back up their files with a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution. It’s the best way to guarantee your data’s recovery, even if it’s deleted. One of the best parts of BDR is that it works equally as well for both accidental and intentional data loss caused by user error or hacking attacks.

Now that we’ve let you know about what happens when you delete a file, how are you going to approach data loss and disaster recovery? For more information about how to recover deleted information, give us a call at (703) 288-9767. We can also show you how to wipe your hard drive so you can know the deleted data is gone forever.