Why your “deleted data” is not truly deleted?

If you have ever recovered your accidentally deleted data with Active@ File Recovery, Active@ Partition Recovery or Active@ Undelete you have probably wondered at some point what happens with the data that you did delete on purpose and you want to keep that way? Can they be recovered, how can you know whether they can be recovered or not, etc.?

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Truth of the matter is that your data is never really deleted when you delete it from your computer manually. When you delete your files, they are being sent to the Recycle Bin, where they can be recovered at any time. Recycle Bin in itself is a protection mechanism by the Windows OS to provide assurance to the user that if some files do get deleted that they still can be reverted back into the working state. From the perspective of the operating system the files are being deleted permanently only when they are either too big for the Recycle Bin, when the Recycle bin is being emptied or when the file was deleted using Shift+Delete. But, as you might be guessing, those files are not really deleted and can be recovered quite easy with any reputable data recovery software.

When you delete a file on your drive what in reality happens is that pointers that are dedicated to tell the OS the location and size of the file are being deleted and the actual file is still there. Think of it as if you are removing an entry (let’s say a chapter) from the table of contents at the start of a book. You can remove the entry (the page and name of a chapter) but the chapter is still there in the book waiting to be read. What the operating system does is that declares the space that is being occupied by the deleted file as empty and proceeds as if it is not there anymore. If there comes a need to use that space for saving another file, the Windows will just overwrite the old file with the new one and that would be it.

This is the end with book analogy since you clearly can’t overwrite pages in a book and make it still usable. 😉

To conclude, your “deleted data” are not really deleted so you can rest assured that they can easily be recovered (with File Recovery, Partition Recovery or Undelete, etc.) if they were not overwritten with other data. On the other hand, that is also a cause for concern because the data can be recovered by some unfriendly 3rd party in which case you should go with our freeware Active@ ZDelete or Active@ KillDisk.

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