• Well, if you want to get technical, you can't ;) It is relatively easy to delete a file in such a way that a person with an average degree of computer litercy will not be able to retrieve it. Some people, however, know more about computers and will attempt slightly more sophisticated ways to un-delete a file. Most of the time, deleting it with a utility that overwrites the file REPEATEDLY will take it beyond the abilities of these methods... but the NSA (and other intelligence services) has better methods than us mortals. If THEY want the files back, the files will reassamble themselves as if by magic, no matter HOW you deleted them. Reply to anystupidassname :Incinerating the hard drive is not the same as deleting a file. Your remark is WELL beyond the scope of the question.
  • You know, the answer to this question really depends on whether YOU want to recover something deleted in error, or if YOU really want something gone so neither you nor anyone else can ever find it again. Can you return and be more specific in this regard? You can find a number of data shredding utilities online that will do some heavy duty erasing on all the portions of a drive that the OS File Allocation Table (FAT) believes are unassigned or blank. I personally use Symantec's Wipe Info utility only because it comes as part of Systemworks. As another poster here so stated, data really can be recovered many times even if overwritten multiple times, so if you've previously stored something you have great fear may be recovered by professionals, complete destruction of the storage media is your only answer. Only you can judge the worth and results of your behavior. Your future actions toward deletion may prove worse than anything already done.
  • Well, I know only about the Windows OS and I will comment only on that. When you delete a file from your folder, you actually send them to something called Recycle Bin located on your DeskTop, which provides you the facility to restore them back to their original positions. If you delete the files from Recycle Bin, they seem to disappear, as if they were permanently deleted, and there is no ready means to get those files again. However please note that these so called permanently-deleted-files have some corner of the disk space allocated to them by the Windows operating system. That means they can be recovered. There are no direct means in Windows OS to recover them. Several third party tools (Like Recover4All, etc) are available to get those files. The chances of recovery depends on how long back they are deleted and also on the OS parameters. The chances of recovery exist only before the OS is reloaded. Once the Windows OS is reloaded (or the system's disk is formatted) the chances of recovery become meagre.
  • No. If you simply delete a file without using any kinds of utilities, your Operating System doesn't actually erase the file. It just erases the reference inside the catalog of files. So the OS thinks the file is gone, and it will use its space on the disk to store other files, but the actual file data is still on your disk until the OS actually writes something new inside the space that your deleted file used to occupy. So the file isn't "gone forever", it can in many cases be recovered for quite some time. There are utilities which allow you to do that, but if you've lost valuable data, you're best off by paying for a professional recovery service.
  • If you are using an operating system that supports trash cans or recycle bins (Win 9x/XP, Mac OS, Linux/Unix Desktops), then actually it's moved to a DIFFERENT folder called "trash", "recycle bin" or whatever the OS decided the name should be. If you delete a file manually (through a shell) like in a DOS shell putting C:> del file.txt or in Unix $ rm -rf file.txt its reference is gone, which means the file is PHYSICALLY still there, but the OS no longer knows what part or parts of the disk it is.
  • These are all relatively good answers. The short answer is no, it isn't necessarily "gone forever". With the file systems used commonly on Micro$haft, *nix, and Mac hardware these days, the file is just marked as deleted. Many applications exist which will allow you to recover the files. If a file was deleted a long time ago, it may have been overwritten enough times (the DOD has run tests and deem that if a file is overwritten 8 times with random data, it is not recoverable) then you may not be able to recover it. For the average user, if you overwrote it more than once, the data is gone unless you're willing to spend a lot of money to retrieve it. This ONLY applies to electromagnetic media such as the popular hard disk drive. Optical media and flash media is a different story. In a couple years time, they may find better data recovery (and/or erasure) techniques. There are plenty of good web sites that talk about this in great detail but I'm too lazy to link one right now. :-) If your goal here is just to get rid of files for good, get a secure erase type application.
  • hey sorry haven't got an answer to the question but what do you mean by over writing a file? and if a person was to delete the file from their recycle bin too and also reboot their computer would the file than still be retrievable? if so than how can a person delete a file completely? Thanks for your answers in advance! :)
  • "Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory" by Peter Gutmann might be useful info for everyone here. The "Gutmann Pass" uses 35 consecutive writes. Peter states "To erase magnetic media, we need to overwrite it many times with alternating patterns in order to expose it to a magnetic field oscillating fast enough that it does the desired flipping of the magnetic domains in a reasonable amount of time." Read more at Michael
  • I have a question about files that are transferred and save on a flash drive. Does that stay on my computer too or not? Thanks for your help in advance!
  • No, it is still stored on CIA and FBI computers.

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