When you delete stuff from your phone (pictures, videos etc.) where does all that data go?


When you delete stuff from your phone (pictures, videos etc.) where does all that data go?

In: Technology

It doesn’t go anywhere. Just like deleting stuff on your computer, the operating system simply changes the memory addresses the data is in as available to be overwritten. The data is still there at first, just not accessible without some unique tools. And future data writing is now allowed to write over it.

Nowhere. Technically the data that makes up those files are still there, the only thing that gets deleted is the entry in the file system index or the directory listing. That is why forensic data recovery services and the law (FBI, NSA etc.) are able to recover data from flash storage and hard drives they seize, even if they’ve been deleted.

The only way to be gone gone is to write over the 1’s and 0’s of the file’s data several times and even the pros can still recover files that have been “wiped”.

Actually nowhere. Imagine storage as a bunch of words in a notebook. When you “delete” something you actually are just telling your computer (phone) that you don’t care about the contents of the notebook anymore. You throw that notebook in a pile that you designate as “good to write in”. The notebook isn’t actually cleared, you just no longer care that it has anything written in it.

Now when you have something else to write, you take out that notebook and simply write directly over the last thing that was there. The last thing isn’t “deleted” per se but is overwritten.

Actually with many programs you can look at your own storage and see if there is enough of your previous files to restore them from storage. If you never want this to happen (or you’re doing some shady stuff) there are programs that essentially are data “shredders”. They continuously overwrite a certain memory location until the data is completely unrestorable. From the analogy earlier it’s like if you took a permanent marker and just kept drawing over all the pages until you couldn’t make out what was underneath anymore.

“Data” isn’t a thing. You can’t have a bucket of data, it is an idea. The presence of a thing can convey data but similarly the absence of a thing can convey data. So your question of “where does it go” has no answer, it doesn’t need to go anywhere.

It doesn’t go anywhere, if you’ve ever used whiteout when you needed to ‘erase’ a mistake in your writing, that’s what delete does to data. It just covers it with a layer that basically says you can write over this area. Data recovery software just attempt to do this but in reverse.

Imagine computer memory as a bunch of switches, either up or down, on or off. The switches themselves go nowhere, they just get flipped on and off in different combinations to mean different things. For example, if you have just two switches, two positions of binary, if they’re both off (00), this can represent the number 0. If the left is off but the right is on (01) then this can represent the number 1. If the left one is on but the right one is off (10), this can represent the number 2. And finally if they’re both on (11) then this can represent the number 3. Of course, we need to represent numbers a lot higher than 3, so you basically have -a lot- of these nano switches to be able to represent very large numbers, and then those numbers can be used to represent other things, like letters, colors, etc.