Simple Questions: What Happens To Deleted Files? Why Can They Be Recovered?

You probably heard that files that you accidentally deleted or lost can be recovered. There are many applications on the Internet that can help you do this You might have even tried some. But did you ask yourself why is that possible? Why can deleted files be recovered? Read this guide to find the answer to this question:

How Does A File Get Deleted?

Whenever you delete a file from your hard drive, it is not physically erased from the hard disk. Each and every file is made out of many bits of information. You might be tempted to think that when the file is deleted, all those bits are erased and they no longer contain any kind of information. However, that is not the case.

Instead of physically deleting a file, the operating system only marks the file as free space. But how does Windows do that? The answer is pretty simple: to know where a file is, Windows assigns it a pointer. When you delete the file, it's only that pointer which gets removed. That way, Windows will no longer "see" the file, and will consider the space used by it as free.

Why & How Can Deleted Files Be Recovered?

Now you know that a deleted file is not actually deleted, it is only marked as deleted. Getting back the files you deleted or lost by accident is possible. In order to do that, you'll need to use specialized software. If you'll use such a program, then you can find the contents of the deleted file and reassign it's pointer, so that Windows will know where to find it.

If you're searching for ways to recover files you lost by accident, a good starting point are these articles:

When Recovering Deleted Files Isn't Possible Anymore?

Recovering lost files isn't always possible: if Windows overwrites the space a deleted file was occupying, the original file cannot be restored. Why? Because the content of that original file is simply not there anymore. New information was stored over its content. That means the old information was destroyed and is not recoverable any more.


Now you know that deleted files aren't exactly removed from your hard disk until their data is overwritten by other files and that is why they can be restored. If you need to know more about recovering deleted files, read the articles recommended below.