What happens to the files we delete from our phones and computers?
Do the files we delete from our phones and computers disappear into nothingness or go somewhere we don’t know?
If you have ever tried to retrieve your deleted files, even once, you must have wondered what happens to deleted files. Do the files you deleted magically disappear? Let’s explain the answer to this question.
If we can retrieve them, these files are not deleted. You may have wondered, and so did we, what happens to the files that we have deleted. We have explained it simply without getting too bogged down in technical terms.
First, we must understand how data is stored on our computers.
Usually, when we delete data from our computer, it is moved to the trash. The data is automatically deleted if you don’t clean the trash for 30 days. But when this happens, do the files disappear entirely? We first need to understand how data is stored on our computers to answer this question.
Our computers have two types of memory: volatile (RAM) and auxiliary (ROM). Volatile memory, as the name implies, is data stored on your device for a short time. As soon as you cut the power to your computer’s power supply, the data stored in RAM disappears.
ROM is a storage unit such as a USB, DVD, or HDD. These are forms of memory where the user can store most of their data. Most ROMs contain ferromagnetic elements, and a ferromagnetic part has dispersed magnetic poles.
Data is stored in memory by magnetizing the magnetic dipoles in a specific orientation. This allows the computer to display this persistent data to the user whenever the user needs it.
What happens when we delete a file?
Contrary to what you might think, data does not disappear when you delete it. To explain this, we can simply take an example from the PlayStation 2 era. You remember the legendary Memory Cards of the PlayStation 2.
These Memory Cards could be up to 128 MB in size, but many of us had to make do with only 8 MB Memory Cards. To save our progress in games, we would often overwrite the saves of games we had already played and finished.
This is precisely what happens when you ‘delete’ a file on a digital device. Windows keeps a record of all files on the hard drive. This is done with the help of tools known as ‘pointers.’ Each file or folder on the hard disk has a pointer that tells Windows where a particular file is located on the hard disk.
When you send a file to the trash and clear the trash, Windows removes the pointer and changes the file location status to ‘available.’ The file no longer appears on the hard drive in the operating system, and the sector containing the file is considered free space. New files overwrite the space occupied by this old data.
So how can we recover deleted files?
The answer to this question is straightforward. As we mentioned, when you delete a file, Windows keeps it in memory and treats the space it occupies as free space. Of course, this is only valid until a new file is overwritten.
You can quickly recover deleted files if Windows has not overwritten the deleted file with new data. This is why many data recovery programs can only recover recently deleted files in their complete form without any problems.
To summarize, because non-volatile memory (RAM) and other non-volatile and auxiliary storage (ROMs) store data magnetically to disk when it is erased, it doesn’t magically make the data disappear when it is erased. Instead, it treats the space occupied by that data as empty and overwrites it with new data.
This gives you a chance to retrieve files, especially if you have recently deleted them.