Are Deleted Files Really Gone Forever?

Pushing delete button

There are dozens, hundreds or even thousands of important files stored on your computer’s hard drive. What happens when vital files are deleted by accident? Files can be infected with a virus, corrupted or lost due to hardware damage. Or, you may just delete an entire folder only to realize later that you need some of the files stored in it. As Andy O’Donnell of About reports, a deleted file isn’t necessarily lost forever.

First, it’s important to understand what happens when you tell your computer to delete a file. This is important not only for recovery purposes, but also for security.

Windows users delete a file and send it to the Recycle Bin, which they’ll empty later. Once the Recycle Bin is emptied, most users have lost any means of accessing or recovering those files. But, they may not be completely deleted. In many cases, the actual data is still on the hard drive and only the pointer record, which contains the location of the data, has been deleted.

Without the pointer record, users can’t see files in directories. To find them, you’ll need a special recovery tool, which can be extremely expensive and difficult to use effectively. But, for those with some expertise, deleted files can be found and recovered.

This leads to another problem, however. If files you’ve deleted could still be unearthed by experts that means anyone who steals your computer or buys it legitimately could potentially restore the files you thought you had deleted. That could lead to some costly incidents.

To protect yourself, remove the hard drive from any computer you’re planning to sell. That’s the only way to ensure that no one can find and restore data that you have tried to delete.

Other options aren’t fool-proof, but they are helpful. Use a tool to encrypt your entire hard drive. Regularly use the disk de-fragmentation tool. Format your hard drive before selling it and use a secure drive erase tool, which adds zeroes and garbage data to your drive to make recovery more difficult.

If you need to restore valuable files to your hard drive, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 before spending hundreds of dollars on a difficult to use restore tool.

March 4th, 2014