What Actually Happens to All Your Deleted Files?

By Eric Limer on at

We delete files all the time to free up space, or to get rid of pesky evidence, but the whole process is a lot more complicated than it seems from the outside. When you go to "delete" something, you're just pressing the start button on a much more involved, much more random process. So what actually happens to that data?

As Vsauce explains, "deletion" doesn't have as much to do with destroying a file as it does with removing the protections that keep non-deleted files safe. And over time, your system washes old data away like so much silt. Of course, sometime's that's not good enough, and then the process gets a whole hell of a lot more complicated.

Anybody have a sledgehammer I can borrow? I've got a little cleanup to do.