Where do deleted messages go?

  Ankermi31 20:57 15 Nov 2007

Windows XP

Question from grandson. "When you delete messages or compact messages do they stay on the computer?"

To be honest grandma has no idea!!! Can someone tell me the answer please if they are "stored" on "C" drive should they be deleted and where would they be hidden to?

  anskyber 21:18 15 Nov 2007

Yes they do. Deletion is not what it says. Deletion in effect says to the machine you can use the space that I occupy and write over me. Unless it is overwritten the message stays.

True deletion can only be achieved by programs which overwrite the space with gobbledygook.

  Totally-braindead 21:46 15 Nov 2007

As anskyber says it effectively stops seeing them but they are still there till written over, its the same with programs you delete. You don't actually delete them you are in effect telling windows to ignore the info stored there and to write over the top when it wants.

Regarding the compression thing thats different, no idea how it works presumably its something like a Zip file it just makes the file smaller. As far as I know they are still in the same place but are stored in a different format which is smaller. I think.

  donki 22:27 15 Nov 2007

This is the reason that with a good recovery program you can get any information you have RECENTLY deleted back. Once the information you have deleted has been written over with new information it is nearly impossible (without very very exspensive software)to recover.

T-B it seems that I have been following you today, I assure you that you are not in any danger from me :P.

  DieSse 22:06 16 Nov 2007

Deletion of messages in (say) Outlook Express is not the same as deleting a regular file.

Firstly, all the messages in an OE folder (eg the Inbox) are held in a single database file. Deleting a message from here doesn't delete anything at all - it simply adjusts the index (pointer) file for this database not to show it.

Compacting the database file does remove all deleted messages from the database, and reconstructs the index. Then the database file will be rewritten, just like a normal file - and the old database file may or may not be overwritten by the new one. Compacting is not connected with file compression in any way - it's simply a "clean-up" of the database.

So - an Inbox with deleted messages, but not yet compacted - may be viewed with say, Wordpad - and all the old messages will still be there.

  DieSse 22:11 16 Nov 2007

To explain further (and very simplified). A database is simply a long list of connected items.

The active items in the list are identified by a seperate file called an index. The index has a smaller list which points to the status of items in the database list.

So an item may be active (ie shows in the main list) or inactive (is still in the main list, but is hidden).

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