Deleting data is the process of requesting that an operating system delete a file or list of files. There are often various ways of recovering a file that has been deleted in this fashion. Operating systems commonly include a restore function that allows users to recover recently deleted files. Beyond that, operating systems commonly don't physically delete data but simply remove it from their registry of files such as a file allocation table. As such, deleted files can be recovered until the operating system sufficiently reuses all of the physical space the files occupied.Wiping data is the process of using specialized security tools that overwrite data on a data storage device. This process may include multiple passes that write all zeros, all ones or random data to physical devices. Security tools for wiping data may provide a certificate to validate that the data is gone. Such tools will pay special attention to hidden files, restore functionality of operating systems and other common pitfalls of data deletion.
Delete vs WipeFrom an information security perspective, it can be assumed that a file that has been deleted can be recovered. Any files that have been wiped with a sufficiently advanced security tool can be deemed unrecoverable.
Recovery of Deleted FilesBeyond an operating system's file restore functionality, a file can often be recovered until the operating system uses the space again. This is unpredictable and can be measured in years or can take minutes.
Multiple OverwritesMultiple overwrites are often used by data wiping tools. Various standards exist for this that usually involve three complete passes over all target data. For example, all zeros, all ones and a random pattern may be considered a secure wipe.
|Data Delete ||Data Wipe |
|Definition||Using an operating system interface or command to logically delete a file that may physically remain in storage.||Using a specialized tool that performs multiple overwrites on data to make it generally impossible to recover the data.|
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