How Can You Be Sure Your Data Is Really Deleted?

Photographed by Savanna Ruedy.
The hacking fear is real, especially when it comes to our personal data and the more, well, sensitive photos we keep on our devices. Surely, the best practice is to clear out your store regularly, deleting anything nonessential, unflattering, or incriminating. But once you see your files minimize into that tiny trash can icon, are they really gone for good?

Unfortunately, "out of sight, out of mind" does not apply to data. A recent video from Brit Lab thoroughly debunks deleting as we know it, explaining that even when a file is removed from our computer or phone, it often remains on some kind of backup, either on your own hard drive or in the cloud (a remote network of computers and servers that store information). Even old data on a phone you give away or sell can be accessed with the right software.

If you're working with a hard drive, your best bet is to use a software program that will scramble your data and render it useless if it were to fall into the wrong hands. The video adds that you can destroy a hard drive for good if you happen to have an incredibly powerful magnet or flamethrower lying around — this is great advice if you're also a Bond villain, but is a bit impractical for most of us.

Now, let's return to the all-knowing cloud. First, make your peace with the fact that it won't let go of your old files, so you need to do what you can to protect them. In other words, it's time to adopt this mantra: encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. Encrypting data stored on the cloud will ensure that it can't be read without you entering your password first. And, yes, everything comes back to passwords. They matter. Make sure you have a good one (you can get more help with that here).

Check out the full video below to get the lowdown on what really happens when you delete something. And remember — the cloud is always watching.
Video Via YouTube.

More from Tech

Complaining today is much easier than it used to be. Lost luggage, bad service, extra charges, broken products — you used to have to put a letter in the ...
It's Google's 18th birthday which means it can finally see all the porn it serves up
Tonight marks the first of three presidential debates between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Because of the debate's close proximity to New...
GENERATION STARTUP presents Women In Tech, an episode of an exclusive web series with footage left on the cutting room floor. The feature documentary ...
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) developed a phone app that will assist you in recording and reporting police conduct. The app, Mobile Justice, ...
If you aren't registered to vote, don't panic. As a matter of fact, thanks to Snapchat, you can now do it in just one minute, reports Time. The social-...
You may start to notice your Uber drivers snapping a lot of selfies, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you're riding with an Instagram addict. Your ...
(Paid Content) Refinery29 is now on Versy, a messaging and content-sharing app made for busy people like us
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the company has developed new video-enabled sunglasses, called Spectacles, and will subsequently be rebranding ...
You're at 20,000 feet, and you realize your flight doesn’t have WiFi — which wouldn't be a big deal, except you forgot your book at home, and none of your ...
It's a sad but true fact that a bad commute — one where you just miss the bus or subway — has the power to ruin your day. More often than not, these near...
When you think of playing a video game, what comes to mind? Is it a raucous game of Wii Bowling when you were in college? Hours spent on your Game Boy ...
If you're a Yahoo user (or ever have been), you'll want to change your password ASAP — and not just on that Yahoo account. Today, the company confirmed ...
There are two types of people in this world: the zero-inbox purists, and the ones with hundreds (or even thousands) of unread messages in their inbox. ...