Everyone has heard the term, ‘What goes online, stays online,’ and in many cases, this is true, but not all.
A lot of it comes down to how the data is collected and why. Big tech companies like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, want to know their users’ every digital movement, so they can better target ads.
They’re not the only ones. People finder sites collect data on people from all over the internet to build their databases.
Here’s a look at what data has been deleted, who wants to recover it, and ways to limit a person’s online exposure.
What Data Is Already Gone?
The good news is that some data is gone forever. Surprisingly, almost all of the data that was online in the 1980s and early 1990s is gone. The simple reason behind this is that when tech companies buy each other out, then often delete or disable old databases.
Servers get shut down, drives get erased, and this information is removed from the internet. However, if the physical drives still exist, data can be recovered.
Who Wants Deleted Data?
Data is deleted for various reasons. It could be to make space on a site, server, or drive. It could be that the information is now irrelevant or outdated, or it could be to protect a person’s information.
Sometimes, the data needs to be recovered, which can happen in many cases. The reasons include accidental deletion, police requirements for a legal matter, or hacking.
Quick, but Regrettable Delete
Possibly, something was deleted that wasn’t meant to be in haste. Deleted data doesn’t immediately disappear; it usually ends up in a recycle bin, where it sits for around 30 days, and it can be instantly recovered from there.
If the user has emptied the recycle bin and still wishes to recover the data, a computer software expert may be able to assist.
Forensic police have tools to recover data that has been deleted. Provided they get the proper legal documents granting them access. Police can seize hard drives, recover deleted browsing history and cookies, and access deleted files stored in the cloud.
Naturally, this is only done in the case of suspected criminal activity, but it is another indicator of why data is never really deleted.
Hackers Want Data
Deleted data may include personal information that could be valuable for hackers. These people are often computer experts who can recover information that’s been deleted. They own or create tools to perform these actions, even when other avenues have been exhausted.
How to Minimize Data Exposure
There are some steps to take to avoid data being stored online after personally removing it. Most of it comes down to making savvy decisions before posting something and being aware of what others can do with your data.
Think Before You Act
Anyone really concerned about what stays on the internet should ask themselves, ‘Do I want this online forever?’ If the answer is a clear no, then don’t post it.
There are instances when a person’s data is made public, and they have no control over it. For example, public records like the purchase or sale of property, motor vehicles, or any court judgments.
The Dangers of Sharing
Letting others share a post made on social media or other platforms gives that data new life in another set of hands. If the original post is removed, it lives on everywhere it’s been shared.
A person’s information is only as safe as another person’s access to it. These days smartphones can take screenshots of any site, and images, text, and comments can be duplicated and reshared effortlessly.
The best option is to disable any share options.
It Really Is There Forever
It’s straightforward to delete something posted online, and it’s equally as easy, in many cases, for that data to be recovered.
Sometimes the deletion was accidental, or it may be needed by the police or desired by hackers.
There are ways to reduce an online presence by making wise choices before posting anything and disabling share options.
The easiest thing to do is to accept that a lot of your data is public and available to anyone who wants it.