.
Lv 6
. asked in Computers & InternetSoftware · 7 months ago

If you delete a document from a USB or computer, does it leave any traces?

I had an funny embarrassing video I was going to upload on the internet saved on my computer and later on a USB but decided to delete it. Did it leave any trace? How can I recover it if I change my mind?

Update:

How much time does it take to completely erase the document from existence from both the USB and PC?

4 Answers

Relevance
  • L
    Lv 7
    7 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    I gave thumbs up to "ioerr"... adding some clarification because your line of questioning is a bit odd.

    USB = Universal Serial Buss. It is a connection technology, not a device. For example, my computer uses USB to connect (with a cable) to a printer (Canon Pixma 922), external hard drive (Iomega, OWC), video monitor (USB-to_HDMI), audio interface (Focusrite Scarlet), wireless mouse, Battery back-up (CyberPower 1500AVR) and a few other things - including a flash memory "jump drive" (which is what I think you're asking about).

    Whether a file (video, spreadsheet, audio, presentation, etc. - any "active" data file is treated the same) is stored on flash memory (like a USB "jump drive", USB-connected SSD or USB-connected electro-mechanical hard drive (or internal drive) does not usually make much difference. Each active data file has a start flag at the beginning of the file and and an end flag at the end of the file. This is so the computer's operating system know where the data files is and not to right any data of that existing data file. When you delete the file, you are not really getting rid of anything - EXCEPT the start and end flags. When those start and end flags are gone, the computer operating system sees that as available space to write new data.

    Your questions and my responses:

    1) If you delete a document from a USB or computer, does it leave any traces?

    Yes. The entire data file remains on the drive - the only thing that changed are the start and end flags went away.

    2) Did it leave any trace?

    Not just a "trace" - the entire file is still there, but the start and end flags are gone.

    3) How can I recover it if I change my mind?

    With a file recovery utility. There are lots - you get what you pay for.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_recovery

    4) Update: How much time does it take to completely erase the document from existence from both the USB and PC?

    "Time" is not the issue - for most file recovery, the issue is whether that file with no start/end flags (remember, the OS thinks that is available space) has been overwritten by other files. For example, If you wrote the file to a USB jump-drive, dragged that file to the trash, took the jump-drive out and put it in a closet, nothing on that jump drive would change. If you use the jump-drive daily copying other video files, presentations, audio files, spreadsheets, video files and otherwise use the drive a lot, then chances are pretty high the video file in question would have had its space overwritten and the chances for recovery quickly gets very low, very quickly.

    We assume you are not using a "data file shredding" app that writes random zeroes and ones on the available space when you delete a file...

    Hope this helps to clarify... Your question is similar to "I put gas in my car and it does not start"... we don't know if it is an electric car, the gas filled a gas can and put in the trunk rather than the gas tank or whether the car has a motor that can actually use the gas... for that matter we don't know if gasoline or helium (or some other "gas") is being referred to...

    • L
      Lv 7
      7 months agoReport

      Writing other files to the hard drive with the "deleted file should work, but unless you actually fill the hard drive (very little available space left, you will never know - and you can crash the system. Use a "file shredder" utility to be sure the "deleted" file's been overwritten.

  • Lv 7
    7 months ago

    recovering from USB is tricky, unlike with hard drives. not impossible, but not easy.

  • don r
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    It can be recovered or undeleted if it hasn't been overwritten. I formatted a thumbdrive, then recovered erased files with "recuva".

    • .
      Lv 6
      7 months agoReport

      So I upload and create files in the PC and USB to overwrite it?

  • ioerr
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    yes there's a trace, and there's utilities you can use to "undelete it," but only if you do that "undelete" very soon after you've deleted it

    when you do an ordinary delete stuff on one of these computers, the space on the storage device that file was sitting on, is not actually erased or overwritten, at least not right away

    it's more like this. the operating system keeps track of all the available storage space on that device, with like a list. when you create a file, the os goes to its list and assigns some space on the device for that file to sit in, and then it's written there

    but when you delete that file, the os just goes to its list, and marks the space that the file is sitting on, as "empty" or "available." it doesn't actually take the time to wipe that piece of space. the file is actually still there, you just can't see it

    but the space the file is sitting in, is now listed as available by the os. if you create a new file now, the os could very easily assign all or part of the space of the deleted file, to the new file. the more new files you make, the greater the chance this has happened. and once it's happened.... you're not getting that file back, or at least not the whole file, and probably none of it.

    • ioerr
      Lv 7
      7 months agoReport

      yeah i'm sure it's same, though i can't say i've tried undeleting anything off usb. as far as i know the os storage management strategy should be the same. it does it that way because it's faster than actually bothering to wipe that space.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.