General Question

Anatelostaxus's avatar

Is it possible to recycle files?

Asked by Anatelostaxus (1423points) November 4th, 2010

Lets say I go into my music collection and find a duplicate ‘song’.
Or i find two films entitled identically except for the enumeration tag (2) on one of them ( or the word ‘copy’ at the end).
Is there a way and if so how, to ‘overwrite its contained data with something else… recycle it?
Deleting it is such a shame and a waste of good bytes!
Would I need a specific software ?
I use Ubuntu, which is satisfying me quite a bit as it seems to have all things needed for the basics and a bit more.

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5 Answers

meiosis's avatar

Deleting a file doesn’t waste bytes, it removes it from the list of currently available files and places it in the recycle bin, where it is stored just in case you wish to ‘undelete’ the file. If you don’t want to undelete it, you can permanently remove it from the recycle bin and this will free up the space used to be recycled immediately. No extra software is required.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

You need to understand that “bytes” are analogous to electric light switches on a wall being in an “on” or “off” position. Turning all of the switches “off” in a room is like erasing your file. Are the switches “wasted”? No, because you can turn them on again in any sequence you want to make a new file. Are the “switch positions” wasted? That’s a question hardly worth an answer, except in some kind of Zen way, perhaps.

Thammuz's avatar


Hard disks have a limited capacity, in the sense that they have a set number of bits in them, bits being parts that the computer can recognise as either 0 or 1 once they’ve been set as such. If you delete a file all that happens is that the system removes the bits where the file was stored from the list of the occupied bits, making them ready to be written on. There’s no actual elimination taking place, you’ll never see your HD gradually disintegrate because you’re deleting files.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

Alright then… I’ll put it differently.
What if I’d like to ‘change’ a file from its original format to something else?
I agree that my point might’ve eluded you all, due to the allegory I used.
About the wasting bytes, .. that was an allegory, guys.
I appreciate the contribution, good fellows.
@Thammuz @CyanoticWasp @meiosis
@CyanoticWasp I particularly enjoyed your light switch metaphor.
@Thammuz I know about the binary… ( I do indeed hope not to ever see my HDs suddenly morph into a blob of methane..!)
@meiosis Yes of course… Thank you for your clear explanation (to all of you really). But my point is really this: “Is there a way and if so how, to ‘overwrite its contained data with something else” as mentioned in the question.
Thanks again, lads.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Then in that case, sure. Of course. Easy as pie. Run it through a converter such as Gold Wave (you can find and download a demo version that will be good for a long time) and knock yourself out.

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