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EL-336 Kirschenbaum: Recycle Bins Are No Places For Monsters

"Lay users often know that when they delete a file from their trash or recycle bin it is not immediately expunged from their hard drive." (Kirschenbaum p,50)
When I use my PC I often attempt to clean up all the unnecessary files by dragging them to the trash bin. I was always under the assumption that when you throw something away it is gone for good, not the case for files that are taken to these temporary holding cells. They are stored as the prisoner file frees up space for new files to take their place. Then when they become unwanted, they become deleted. It is an endless cycle. The reason for the file not being permanently deleted is that it may need to be recovered at some point. The hard drive is the mastermind behind the operation. Without the concept of the hard drive, users would loose just about any work they have done in the past, it preserves memory while it writes new information.

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Comments

So many criminals have been caught due to this ignorance. Nothing that you put into a computer is ephemeral.

And thank god they can be recovered. My hardrive crashed two months ago and I was so scared. I have hard copies of most of my papers, but not all of them. You better believe the recovered material is in a safe place.

This can sometimes be a good thing. When I was in New Media Projects I accidentally deleted some gaming files for one of my projects and could not retrieve them from the recycling bin. I was using a computer in a lab on 3rd Maura and was sure they were gone. Upon e-mailing the IT department the files were recovered and my butt was saved. This was one time I was happy that the hard drive was "holding" the files.

I too thought that the trash bin deleted files completely off your hard drive, although i always had an underlying suspicion they were still on there. For example, when the FBI browses through files, im sure they can easily access file you thought you had "deleted"

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