We all have private information on our computers, phones and tablets. Whether of personal or professional origin, there’s some data that we’d rather no-one else got their hands on. But does deleting a file and emptying the recycle bin do the job?

According to data recovery expert Rob Winter at Kroll Ontrack, “deleting” the file is akin to removing an item from the contents page of a book – the chapter containing the all-important information is still there. For a specialist, it’s not even that hard to find.

Winter and his team are sometimes called out at short notice to help companies retrieve data from “wiped” drives and physically damaged computers.

In the video below, Dallas Campbell and co-host Jem Stansfield from the BBC TV series Bang Goes The Theory, took to hammering, toasting and cremating hard drives and memory sticks.

It is difficult to believe any technology could have survived such a bashing – but in the next clip, discover just how much data (and even some embarrassing pictures) that Winter managed to retrieve from their sorry-looking hard drives.

Recovery services are highly sought-after by organisations who realise they have lost important files. After the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster, for example, specialists were able to recover 99% of the data from a Seagate drive found in the wreckage.

So remember, if you hit delete, all is not lost.

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