I posted a question about the meaning of ‘hit Delete’ a couple days ago. Now I came across another texting word, “hard-delete” in the headline of Maureen Dowd’s article dealing with Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal, “Time to hard-delete. Carlos Danger” in today’s New York Times. She wrote;

“Yet, while married to the classy, gorgeous mother of his infant son and planning a redemptive run for mayor, he told a Facebook friend and phone-sex partner he had never met that he loved her. Then he told her to “hard-delete” all their correspondence — if that is what you call it.”

I can understand ‘hard to delete memory, stigma, and scandal.’ But I puzzle over what “tell someone to hard-delete correspondence” means, because Dowds deliberately adding to “if that is what you call it.”

Though I guess “hard-delete” is a computer or texting lingo meaning to remove all messages or memory from the hardware, i.e, PC (or mobile), what does “tell someone to hard-delete “exactly mean? Is it a verb established as computer word?

closed as off-topic by user19148, simchona Jul 28 '13 at 21:25

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  • 2
    I had never seen the term until I also read Dowd's column today. But I easily figured out the meaning from other expressions in computing like "hard return" (an intentional line break), to "hard code" (enter parameter values directly in the code, making them difficult to alter), and "hard copy". in each case there's a "soft" counterpart that's somehow less permanent than the "hard" action. – jlovegren Jul 28 '13 at 21:56

To "hard-delete" is to delete irreversibly. Many software applications provide a "soft-delete" function, meaning that it can be reversed. The object deleted can be undeleted. In such applications, there is an option such as "empty trash" which deletes finally or permanently. That would be a "hard-delete". A Google search for "soft deletion" will give examples of both "hard-delete" and "soft-delete" in context. See also:


  • 4
    There are different levels of this. Sometimes, an "empty trash" function simply means "this file will no longer be available to be restored," even though a computer forensicist would still be able to recover the files. A "hard delete" (or "secure delete") would instead overwrite the content with 1's and 0's, so that the file is truly permanently erased (as opposed to simply deallocating the disk space). "Hard delete" means, "don't just delete this; make sure it's irrecoverable." – J.R. Jul 28 '13 at 21:04
  • 3
    Actually, such a hard-delete typically involves writing a random pattern of bits over the disk blocks at least 5 or 6 times, often as many as 10 or 12 times. Where sufficient incentive and resources exists, it is possible to read the last several versions of content for each disk block. Such hard erasure of disk contents is recommended for everyone disposing of a disk drive that has held personal financial information such as bank account numbers and PINs. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 28 '13 at 22:57
  • @PieterGeerkens There's no evidence that reading bit history is possible even for attackers with resources. Some context: serverfault.com/questions/571000/… – Daenyth Jun 7 '15 at 19:56

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