‘DELETED’ files are still there on your Smartphone!

It’s weird to know that when you click the ‘delete’ button on your ‘Smartphone’, the files are not actually deleted or completely vanished! So, where do they go? Is your ‘Smartphone’ outsmarting you? Well, sometimes it does. If you feel that once you deleted a file and no one can recover it, then probably you are wrong. But why is it so? Here, in this blog post, I will tell you about the secret of ‘removing’ your files from your smartphone ‘completely’ and also how to recover them. Here we go.

Understanding Smartphone Memory

You first need to understand that how your smartphone memory works. Your smartphone’s memory is basically divided into two parts:

  1. RAM (Random Access Memory)
  2. ROM (Read Only Memory) [ a.k.a Internal Memory ]
Source:- AndroidPIT

RAM is used by the ‘currently‘ running apps on you smartphone. For example, the browser in which you are reading this blog, uses the RAM to run itself. It’s like a temporary storage. The more RAM you have, the more apps and services you can run simultaneously on your smartphone at the same time. But if you switch off your smartphone, then this memory will be erased and your smartphone will use that memory again for different apps. RAM is like a desk. You can put/run temporarily anything you want until it is consumed completely and can also remove unnecessary things/apps to make space for other apps. One thing that makes accessing your RAM fast is ‘Cache‘. Cache is stored for a long time on your smartphone (until you clear it) only to make sure that when the next time you open an app, it opens and runs fast enough. It is probably embedded inside your smartphone SoC (System On a Chip). Again, the RAM management depends on your smartphone manufacturer and the Operating System (OS).

Internal Memory is your smartphone’s actual memory which deals with storage of your long-term files. Your documents, photos, videos, and other stuff is stored in your ‘internal memory’ by default. You also have an option to expand your storage by inserting an SD card (except some smartphones) as an external storage. But one thing I would like to tell you that you don’t get the exact amount of internal storage as marketed by smartphone manufacturers. Some part of that storage is consumed by the Operating System(OS) like Android/iOS along with the pre-installed ‘system’ apps (also bloatware if it is present).

Where do the deleted files go and can we recover them?

When a file is deleted, it is not actually erased from the internal memory or external storage of your smartphone. Instead, the space which is occupied by the file is marked as ‘free space’ by the operating system. The file still remains in your smartphone memory. It is completely gone when a new file is overwritten on the existing file. Thus, one can actually recover those ‘deleted‘ files until they are overwritten by new data. The reason why the operating systems are made like this is to make the process of removing files faster. Ever wondered why a file of ‘enormous size‘ takes merely a few seconds to delete? Why movies can be deleted much faster than they are transferred? It’s because the system doesn’t do any work apart from marking the space as free and telling you that, ‘The file has been successfully deleted.’ To actually erase a file from the storage is a very long process. The file has to be overwritten by junk data before it finally vanishes. And that’s the reason why operating systems are made like this.

If you want to recover your deleted files then there are many apps and software available for it. But remember that the data which is overwritten by some new data cannot be recovered easily.

There are several apps like DiskDigger, Dumpster, etc. by which you can recover your deleted files.

How to delete files permanently?

The recovery of files can cause a serious and major security issue for many users as nowadays most people use their smartphones to do online transactions and net banking. If you exchange your phone with other person then he/she can gain some of your confidential information by recovery of your deleted files. Most people think that by doing ‘factory reset’ all the data gets erased. That’s not the case. Factory reset only marks the space as free for new data to be written over it. So one can actually recover your important data.

So how can we avoid this? There are some apps and services which overwrite the so called deleted files with lots of junk data and then erase the end product. So there is no chance that the data can be recovered. Check out the app Secure Eraser here. But if you want it to do manually, there is a way to do it.

If you want to sell or exchange your phone with someone without compromising your data then follow these steps before you do it:

  • Back-up your necessary data. Here’s a tutorial of how to do it.
  • Factory-reset your phone by going to Settings. Make sure to remove your SD card and SIM card before you do it. Because it can erase all your data on SD card.
  • Fill your whole internal memory by junk data. You can insert junk photos, videos or movies so that the existing data is overwritten. It will take time according to your phone’s internal storage. Make sure that no email details are included.
  • Perform factory reset again. By doing this the other person will not be able to recover your important files because there will be only a mess of junk data.

That’s all for now. Signing off.

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