What happens to 'overwritten' files? Anyone know?

You know; if you replace something with another piece of data.

Say I put a file called ‘cake’ in a folder that also has a file called ‘cake’ and the system asks me if I want to replace the existing file with the other one, does anyone know what happens to the one that gets overwritten? Does it actually get ‘overwritten’ (can’t see how as that’s turning 2 pieces of data that both exist into 1), or does it simply disappear into the system somewhere as free space, waiting to get overwritten by some newly created data? Just something that got me wondering a bit…

If you ‘Replace’ it gets overwritten. Not to say it ‘couldnt’ be recovered but as such its gone. The original data (01110001) may stay on the Drive but the Windows path and reference changes to the new data.

In theory its deleting the the original by overwriting the originals data. Much like a DVD/CD-RW does.

Yes but if 2 bits of separate data already exist on a HD, replacing one with the other isn’t the same as replacing one piece with a new, freshly CREATED piece of data, which is what you do on a CD/DVD. If I have 2 ‘cake’ files in separate places on my PC but move one from wherever it is into the same folder as the other one, one has to be overwritten.

Does that make any sense?

There’s no GUARANTEE that the file is overwritten per se, but it PROBABLY is. I’d say 90+% of the time it gets overwritten and is no longer recoverable.

I think, unless the disc is full, the reference to the original file is erased from the disc FAT (file allocation table), and is replaced by a reference to the new file. That means that the area where the old file was is regarded as “free” and can be overwritten whenever there is need. Which means that the data may still be there (possibly), but it is not accessible, because the disc does not have reference to it.

99% says it can be recovered with the right utility

If the new file is much the same size, and the drive is already fragmented and/or filling up, the old one will just get overwritten IF the file comes from another drive. If the file is from the same drive then yes, probably just the reference is replaced.