Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Data Deletion or Data Formatting?

Summary: Many users believe that using the Shift+ Del command or emptying the Recycle Bin or Trash permanently deletes the data. However, this is not the case. This post will help you understand why one needs to prefer data erasure over data deletion or formatting.

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Simple deletion only removes the data from a visible location and makes it inaccessible. This deleted data can be recovered easily with data recovery software. To avoid this, make sure to securely wipe the data from your system with professional data eraser software.

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Data Deletion and Data Formatting?
  2. Data Deletion Vs Formatting
  3. Data Deletion Vs Data Erasure
  4. Comparison of Data Deletion and Data Erasure

What is Data Deletion and Data Formatting?

Deletion and formatting are two ways of removing data from a system or a hard drive. The primary function of both methods is to delete the desired data and make space for other files to get saved. However, these methods are different in several ways.

Here’s a quick comparison between deletion and formatting

Deletion Formatting
Purpose Removes selective data from storage devices, such as HDD, SSD, SD card, pen drive, etc. Removes entire data from storage devices, such as HDD, SSD, SD card, pen drive, etc.
Process of removal Removes data selectively Removes the entire data together
Erasing data On deleting a file, it is only removed from the directory Actually erases the data
Recoverable The files that are deleted can be recovered if not overwritten Files that are erased can be recovered
Time Takes comparatively more time if you need to delete multiple files from different locations/folders Takes less time as it erases the entire data from the drive

Difference between Data Deletion and Data Erasure

Data Deletion

To keep track of all the logical storage units or clusters on the hard disk, the operating system uses a ‘file system’, i.e., a table structure. File Allocation Table (FAT) and New Technology File System (NTFS) in Windows, and Apple File System (APFS) in macOS are some of the file systems. The file allocation table keeps track of the addresses (or pointers) of the data stored on the clusters (or nodes in Mac system). Whenever you delete a file, the operating system removes the file address and marks the corresponding cluster in FAT or master file table (MFT) as ‘available’ for storing new file or data.

When you delete a file, only the file address is deleted and not the complete file. As a result, the file becomes invisible and inaccessible to you. Even if you empty the Recycle Bin or delete the file by using Shift + Del command, the file still remains on the storage media until overwritten. Such files can be easily retrieved by using any data recovery software.

Data Erasure

Data erasure is one of the most secure and efficient ways to permanently delete data. When you perform the data erasure process, it overwrites the addressable memory locations with binary patterns (0 and 1) or meaningless pseudo-random patterns to destroy the data, making it impossible to recover the data even by using data recovery software.

BitRaser Drive Eraser is a professional data erasure software, which supports 24 global data erasure standards. It securely deletes the entire storage media, including the hidden area of the storage media and remapped sectors without leaving any traces behind.

A Quick Comparison: Data Deletion vs Data Erasure

The following table presents a comparison between data deletion and data erasure on various aspects:

Data Deletion Data Erasure
Mechanism Address of the file/data is deleted from the master file table (MFT) and the space is marked as available in the MFT. Data is overwritten with specific binary patterns, resulting in the erasure of data beyond recovery.
Implementation Method You can manually delete the data by using the Shift + Del command in Windows or Option + Command + Delete in macOS. Alternatively, you can also do that by emptying the Recycle Bin or Trash. A professional data eraser software, like BitRaser, is used for data erasure. It erases data based on the global erasure standards, such as US DoD 5220.22, NIST 800-88, British – HMG, etc. The software permanently erases the data and provides a certificate of the erasure.
End Result It empties the storage space used by deleted data, for new data to get saved. The entire data is overwritten and the drive becomes reusable without any traces of data left behind.
Recoverability Deleted data can be recovered using a DIY data recovery tool. The erased data cannot be recovered using any data recovery software.

Summing It Up

This blog mentioned the differences between data deletion, data formatting, and data erasure. If you’re planning to dispose of, sell, or donate your device, make sure you delete the confidential data permanently using a powerful data eraser tool, such as BitRaser to avoid data breach/theft. BitRaser erases data in such a way that it cannot be recovered even by using data recovery software.

Also Read: How to Erase Temporary Internet Files on Windows?

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