What happens when you delete a file? 1


We have often heard things that files deleted from ‘Recycle bin’ or ‘Shift-deleted‘ are permanently deleted and are gone forever. However this is MYTH. Deleted files can be recovered just as they were, if you take the necessary actions immediately. Files deleted from ‘Recycle bin’ or ‘Shift-deleted’ still live in your machine and you CAN bring them back to life! In this post, we’ll see what actually happens when you delete a file.

We need to first understand how the file is stored and how it works to understand what happens to a file when you delete a file, 

When you open your explorer and a drive, your OS doesn’t actually go through all the files in the drive. Each folder has its own index file, which tells the folder all the files present in it. Windows Explorer shows you this index file and you see all of its contents. Same goes with a file. A file has 2 parts, one the directory listing (index file) and other the real data. The index file has the attributes of file and location of where the file starts. So when you open any file, you’re actually opening its index file, which then points to the real place of the data.

 

Index file and data

Index file and data

But what happens when you delete a file?

Well, the file is actually moved in the recycle bin, i.e. the index file goes in recycle bin, and hence the file disappears from the folder it was present previously because now the explorer can’t find the index file and hence can’t show the contents of that particular file. But the data of the file is completely intact. A Σ prefix is added to the index file, when you delete it from the recycle bin, signalling the OS that it can overwrite the file if it wants to. The OS is only removing the reference to the data, not the data.
This means the index file can be overwritten and OS forgets all of its data wherever they live, because that data was with the index file.

So when you run any recovery program, it dives deep in your hard-disk and finds the file with prefix Σ and finds the data with it. Now if the index file is not overwritten, the health of that file will excellent because, it can easily recover all the data.
However if the index file is not overwritten, but parts of the address where the data resided is overwritten, that file would be partly recoverable.
When the index file and most of the data is overwritten, the status will be unrecoverable.

Some of the best Data Recovery softwares are:

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