What Happens After a File’s Been Deleted?
By Matt Brennan
After a file’s been deleted, it doesn’t just disappear. The name is a bit of a misnomer. When you hit the delete button intentionally or on accident, that file still exists in the same spot on your computer. The pointer to that file has been removed, making it more difficult to find.
When you see the file in the trash or the recycle bin, it gives another opportunity for recovery. But even removing it from the trash or recycle bin doesn’t fully remove the file from the computer. As mentioned above, it’s simply the pointer that is removed.
Another analogy would be if you lost a road map to your destination. Even if you can’t find your way without a map, the destination still exists. It’s just not immediately accessible. When we stopped using physical card catalogs inside the library, it didn’t mean that there were no more books.
After a File’s Been Deleted It’s Important to Act Fast
After a file has been deleted, it’s important to act fast. This is because when the pointer has been removed, you are giving the computer permission to overwrite the area of the hard drive that is still holding the file.
This is why it becomes important to stop what you’re doing immediately after a file deletion and involve a professional data recovery company before the data is lost for good. Many people may be tempted by a DIY approach in this moment. It’s important to understand that if you use a file recovery program off the internet, you run the risk of overwriting the file during the installation or running of the new software.
File Deletion as a Time Saver
There’s a reason that your computer simply removes the pointer after a file has been deleted. It’s more efficient. The pointer can be removed nearly instantaneously. However, erasing the entire file might take several minutes, depending on the size of the file.
As a time-saving option, Windows and Apple operating systems don’t erase files upon deletion, and when they do erase files, it happens in the background.
When You Need to Recover Deleted Files
If you’ve accidentally deleted a file and you need it recovered, you do have options, but as mentioned above, it’s important to act fast. The more time that passes, the higher the chance that the file will be overwritten, decreasing the likelihood of recovery. Even if it’s been partially overwritten, only a portion of the data may remain available.
The other crucial piece of advice to follow when you’ve accidentally deleted a file is to power down the computer and use it as little as possible. If you have the technical skillset, you can insert the hard drive into another computer, and use another operating system for recovery.
If you don’t have the technical skillset to manage the recovery yourself, the best thing that you can do is to hire an experienced data recovery company that has likely seen recovery cases just like yours.
At We Recover Data, our experienced data recovery specialists work with the highest-level technology and equipment in the industry to efficiently help our customers recover the data that they need after a file has been deleted.