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Hard Drive

Stacked hard drives for digital forensic analysisHard drives are where all of your saved files, documents, music, pictures, programs, system files and much more are stored. Typical hard drives consist of an aluminum disc with a magnetic coating and a head which allows the computer to read and write to the disc. All data is stored on the disc in binary code: either magnetized (1, or ON), or not magnetized (0, or OFF).

The hard drive is the most important part of your computer, as it stores all of the files allowing your computer to function, and stores all of the data you wish to keep (and a lot of it you would rather not).

When you tell your computer to delete a file, your operating system will flag the file as unallocated space, but the file itself will remain unchanged until it is overwritten by a new file. Given the size of most typical computer hard drives, it might be a very long time before the file is overwritten, if it ever happens at all.

The file may be hidden from the user interface of the operating system, but with the right training and tools computer forensics examiners can recover deleted files, pictures and e-mails.


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