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I know that a lot of deleted files can theoretically be recovered, which suggests that "deleting" doesn't actually remove the information.

So how do the various extN (e.g. ext4) filesystems delete files? Do they just mark the space as "free"?

  • Please substantiated your claim that "a lot of deleted files are recovered". In my experience only an extremely tiny fraction of deleted files has to be recovered ever. If that is different in your organisation, you should think about some basic training of your Unix/Linux users. – Anthon Apr 25 '16 at 5:35
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Do they just mark the space as "free"?

Yes.

"Removing" the file would take extra work and is in most cases unnecessary.

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