Deleted Files in Windows: Gone but Not Forgotten
In our usual Cloudeight way, w’re going to take complex and geeky subject and put it in simple terms. Today, we’re going to discuss deleted files.
When you “delete” files they’re not really deleted, but they’re not taking up space either. It’s sort of like they’re in purgatory.
Think of your hard drive as a chalk board. When you erase a chalk board, you can’t see what you erased (very well) but somewhere in the slate of the chalk board is everything you’ve ever written on it. But still you can write something new on it. So it is with your hard drive.
When you “delete” a file, you’re telling Windows that you don’t want that file anymore and instructing Windows to show the space that the file once occupied as free to use for something else. So Windows when Windows shows space as being “available” we refer to that hard drive space as free space. If you have free space available on your hard drive you can install a new program or use the space for files and folders.
Yet, way down deep on the magnetic surface of your hard drive, the file that you deleted is still there. That’s how the FBI and other authorities gather evidence against criminals who think by deleting or formatting their hard drives they can erase all the incriminating evidence it might contain. But there are software programs available that can can recover deleted files and restore them.
If you want to try recovering some deleted files from your hard drive so you can see how deleted doesn’t mean erased, use a program like Recuva to find and restore deleted files from your hard drive. Recuva has a free version available as well as a paid version. Neither version is nearly as powerful as the forensic software used by authorities, but once you see how many deleted files you can recover by using Recuva you will quickly see that deleting a file does not remove it from your hard drive.
Now if you deleted something in the real world, you’d never get it back. In the cyber world, deleted doesn’t mean erased. Remember that!
One more thing, Columbo. There is software available that can overwrite free hard drive space with gibberish. Some of these are pretty good at obfuscating whatever is on the hard drive. Some programs overwrite the free space with gibberish 35 times – all this to cover up “deleted” files.
What the heck does deleted mean anyway?