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Windows® 98 Unleashed by Paul McFedries

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Trash Talk: Understanding the Recycle Bin

In the early days of the PC revolution, accidentally deleted files were gone for good, and no amount of cursing, groaning, or bellyaching would get them back.

Then some genius realized that when DOS deleted a file, it didn't actually delete the file's contents. Instead, it just changed the file's name so that the first letter began with a lowercase Greek sigma, and it changed all the file's FAT entries to 0 (to indicate that these clusters could be used by another file). Thus was born the “undelete” command, which could restore a deleted file by restoring the FAT entries and the original first character of the filename.

The problem, however, was that if you didn't undelete the file quickly, some other ...

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