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Unallocated Space

Milwaukee private investigator defines unallocated space in digital forensicsWhen you check your hard drive's storage capacity, everything displayed as "free space" is what's also known as the unallocated space. Unallocated space does not mean unused space. When data is written to your hard drive, it is written into sectors to save time. A file may not use an entire sector, but the full capacity of the sector will nevertheless be allocated to the file. Unused allocated space is called slack space.

Conversely, space which still contains data could also be flagged as unallocated.

When you delete a file from your computer, your operating system does not erase it from the hard drive. It simply marks the space as unallocated, leaving the file fully intact but hidden from the user interface.

The file will stay untouched until the operating system allocates the space to a new file. Given the size of modern hard drives, this could be a very long time, if it ever happens at all.

The specialized software used by digital forensic examiners allows us to explore the unallocated space bit-by-bit to recover files which have been marked for deletion.


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