beanz Magazine

How to Erase Your Hard Drive

theilr on Flickr

Deleting files on your computer doesn't make them disappear.

Have you ever had a new computer replace an older one before? Sometimes, if the older computer is still not very outdated, you can sell the older computer off to someone who needs it. Of course, you don’t want the new buyer to have access to all your files, so you’ll want to delete them before you pass the computer on. Did you know, however, that someone obtaining an old computer can still access the data on it, even after you’ve deleted the files?

It may sound very strange that someone can still do that; after all, the files are deleted, right? How can someone access a file that’s no longer there? In order to answer this, we need to take a look at how a file is deleted on a computer.

How Files Are Deleted

So, let’s say you’ve deleted a picture on your computer. Either you’ve dragged it to the Recycle Bin and emptied it, or you directly deleted it using the SHIFT-DEL keyboard command. It’s easy to assume that when you do this, the computer accesses the hard drive, finds the picture on it, and scrubs it away until it’s gone. The truth, however, is a little different.


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