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  1. #1
    Bronze Lounger
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    Defragmenting and deleting old files

    The following bit of advice appeared in a message from our corporate HQ: "When you hit the 'DELETE' key, are you really deleting the file? In most cases, you are not. You are simply deleting the information your computer uses to locate the file.... If your hard drive were accessed by an unauthorized person using special software or malicious code, data files you thought were deleted could be accessed. The best way to make sure that deleted files are truly deleted is to defragment your hard drive regularly."

    Oh, yeah...? I cannot remember anybody touting defrag as a way to thwart data thieves. Is this advice on the level, or are they smoking Lefty Luckies?

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Leif's Avatar
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    Re: Defragmenting and deleting old files

    Yes and No.

    If the space where the deleted file was is written over during the course of the defragmentation, then Yes - the original data is obliterated.

    If the space where the deleted file was is NOT written over - i.e. it was at the end of your HD and defragmentation tidied everything to the beginning - then No - the original data is still there.

    Make sense?

  3. #3
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    Re: Defragmenting and deleting old files

    Also one needs to empty the "Recyle Bin" before the defrag. <img src=/S/devil.gif border=0 alt=devil width=15 height=15>

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  4. #4
    Bronze Lounger
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    Re: Defragmenting and deleting old files

    Leif and Dave: Yes, your replies make sense and agree with everything I've learned about these machines. Yet doesn't it seem a bit misleading to suggest that, say, a simple weekly defrag will insure the destruction of old files? I can see that over time said destruction will occur as old files get written over. And it's not everyday that some sleeze goes looking to steal someone's information. But this raises the question: How far back can data recovery software (legal or otherwise) go to retrieve "deleted" data? Certainly the answer will vary with the size of the hard drive, the amount of data stored on the drive, the frequency of defragmentation, and other factors. But let's say we're talking about an "average" office computer that gets reasonably heavy use, and let's say it has a 30 GB hard drive. (Is that average? What is average anymore?) If one is really serious about protecting sensitive information, shouldn't one use a tool that REALLY destroys it? I used to use a utility called BC Wipe, and Nuts & Bolts used to have (and may still have) something called Shredder.

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Defragmenting and deleting old files

    If it were me, unless you share in the corporate paranoia, I would defrag my drive "periodically" for performance reasons and let the IT folks worry about hard drive security when your drive gets replaced. There are lots of utilities out there claiming to put ZEROES and ONES all over the deleted files space on your hard drive, but how far should one go in participating in this ....... Well, I better get off this soapbox!

  6. #6
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Defragmenting and deleting old files

    The only way to prevent someone from resurrecting deleted data from a drive is to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> But seriously, forensic recovery works on residual magnetic traces that survive one or more rewrites. Apparently, while disk writing technology is precise enough for us to almost always be able to get our data off the drive, it is imprecise enough to leave a lot of data behind because writing "over" the data really doesn't consistently and precisely wipe out all of the evidence.

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