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Think You Erased It?

Loading Image ... Gichuki P. Mwangi
Data Being Erased

Computer data is malleable in so many ways, it is simply impractical for one single person to believe they understand each and every data concept out there. I am not either but, aren’t you curious to discover if the security of the data you think is only known to you is compromised? This article will clear the air on that subject. In this article, I will help you digest how data erasure works and how to make sure you have actually erased your data… not just deleted it.

For starters, there are two phrases that need clarification. The first is ‘to delete’ and the second is ‘to erase’ as used in the world of computing. These two are quite different. When you are deleting data using a computer device, you are simply relocating it and de-registering it from the normal file indexing the operating system does, to put it in simple terms. When you erase data on the other hand, what you do is replace it with some other bit of data, typically overwriting what was there.

Picture this; you have a pencil, an eraser and a book of paper in your possession. The book must have at least two leafs of paper. You are now writing your name using the pencil on the first page of your book. Make sure to press your pencil a tiny little bit more than the usual as you write it. You done writing your name? Pick an eraser and lightly erase the pencil writing so that it is no longer visible. Turn to the second leaf of your book and lightly shade the area directly below where you had written your name on the first page. What you realize is that you can see your name, not 100% clearly but – that’ll do. What you have done is more or less what happens when you have deleted data in a computer.

Anyone with the relevant expertise can recover it even when you remove it from the recycle bin. Remember what I said earlier; file indexing is affected but its *physical being is not. There are a bunch of tools that can help you recover deleted files and I shall talk about them but that, that is a topic for another day. Now we know deleting files, even from the recycle bin is not really safe is you want to get rid of a file. There comes to the rescue – erasure!

When data is erased, it literary means that the data is gone for good. It is not recoverable. Picture this; taking wheat to a miller and having them grind it to flour. You can forget about getting your wheat back well, unless you come by an alien that can reverse time. When you erase data, it is simply gone for good and you are never going to get it back. Erasing data is achieved in one simple way – by overwriting existent data. You still have the option of physically destroying the device that stored the data though, using fire or some other extreme medium. That is an obvious fete, we won’t cover that.

Erasing data by overwriting it is achieved using computer programs that are designed for that purpose. You can do this yourself but you’d rather leave it to the persons who are experienced in this sector. Now, you are more aware and of course, you are safer now.

Gichuki P. Mwangi

A computer scientist with a passion to solve real world, day to day problems using new computer technologies and those already in existence.

8 thoughts to “Think You Erased It?”

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