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Did i Delete Something Important?

January 15th, 2009 surfer

computermdbismarck.com – It’s not easy to erase/delete/wipe out information on the computer by accident. (In the computer biz, we use the word “delete” for that, so I’ll stick with that term here). First, you would have to know how to delete things in general. Secondly, you would have to ignore the message that asks if you’re sure you want to delete the thing.

Forget about computers for a moment and think of the real world. The simple rule in the real world is “If you don’t want to get rid of something, don’t put it in the trash”. The same basic rule applies to computers: “If you don’t want to get rid of something, don’t delete it”.

Of course, things might be a little fuzzier in the computer world than in the real world. For example, you might have the option to delete something, but maybe you’re not so sure what that something is. So here’s a good general rule of thumb: If you have to ask “Is it OK to delete this?”, the answer is “No.”

Of course, there’s always the temptation to delete unknown things on the grounds that doing so will help make life easier, or will help you conserve disk space. Still, neither is a good reason to delete something.  In fact, here is the absolute worst reason in the world to delete anything:

deleFear01

Don’t worry about “conserving disk space” until you know exactly how much disk space you have. (An issue I’ll address in the next article here).

About the only time you want to delete anything is when 1) You know exactly what you’re deleting, and 2) You are absolutely certain you’ll never need it again for the rest of your life. Just like throwing things in the trash in real life. The only time it’s safe to delete a file is when you can honestly say the following:

deleFear02

If you’re thinking “Yeah but, what if I press the wrong button and wipe out a bunch of stuff by accident?” There is no button you can press by accident to accidentally delete things. To delete something, you have to take specific steps, like select (highlight) the thing you want  and press the Delete (Del) key, or right-click the thing and choose Delete. Even when you do one of those things, Windows will ask for confirmation, just to make sure you didn’t accidentally press Delete or choose Delete. The confirmation will appear on the screen looking something like the example below.

deleFear03

So you see, you still have a chance to change your mind. If you have any doubts at all, just click on the No button. The items won’t be deleted. Simple as that.

Even if you somehow manage to “accidentally” go through the process needed to delete a file, and “accidentally” answer Yes to the confirmation prompt, there’s still a chance you can get the deleted items back. In Windows XP, any files you delete form your hard disk are stored in the Recycle Bin. To recover an accidentally deleted file, open the Recycle Bin. Then right-click the accidentally-deleted file and choose Restore.

Caution: Never, ever format a disk unless you know for certain the disk is already empty, or that there’s nothing on the disk you’ll ever need again. Formatting a disk permanently erases all of its contents.

The simplest rule in the world to remember is this: If you want to keep something, don’t delete it!

Alan Simpson

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