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  • Writer's pictureBen Lake

Does “Deleted” Really Mean “Deleted”?

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

When you delete a file from your computer, what really happens? To begin with, deleting a file first sends it to the Recycle Bin (or Trash on a Mac). This is a sort of file purgatory that keeps the file intact but prevents it from being accessed. The Recycle Bin does not purge files automatically – this can be done by opening the Recycle Bin and clicking “Empty Recycle Bin” (Click Finder > Empty Trash on a Mac). But wait – it’s not totally gone yet! Purging the Recycle Bin really just removes the computer’s knowledge of the file; the underlying data still exist as ones and zeros on the hard drive until it is overwritten by new data, a process that may take minutes or years. Third-party programs (like Recuva) exist to help restore accidentally purged files and also securely purge files by immediately overwriting the data. Let me know if you’d like some help recovering deleted files.

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