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Do files on a pc ever contain data from other files

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#1 DeepLuv


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Posted 29 September 2013 - 03:19 PM

     Do files on a pc ever contain data from other files on that same pc for any reason?  For instance, could an mp3 end up containing data from another mp3 on the same computer for any reason? could an Mp3 somehow end up containing data from a text file on the same computer for any reason?  Could an executable file end up containing data from an mp3 on the same computer for any reason?...the examples are endless, but what I really want to know is this...is there any chance that the files I share with people could possibly contain information from the files that I wish to keep private?  

     For example, If I have audio files of private information on the same computer that I keep all of my music mp3s on, and If I am sharing my music mp3s with people on the internet, is there any chance that one of the music mp3s I am sharing might somehow also contain data from my audio files with private information?   I am basically concerned that If I'm sharing my files with people online I might accidently be sharing data from other files that i wish to keep private...Is this even possible? Do Files ever end up containing data from other files for any reason?

Thanks to all who respond!

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#2 Platypus


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Posted 29 September 2013 - 05:38 PM

This scenario is extremely unlikely, so I don't believe it's something you should be concerned about. However I can think of two ways that it might happen in theory.


One is a crosslinked file. Since this involves one of the files being damaged, and thus producing a file system error, it's not something that will normally happen. Crosslinked files have accidentally had the same cluster address allocated to two files, so one of them contains a section of the other file. Running chkdsk will reveal if any files on a drive are crosslinked and correct the faulty link, but the damaged file will still have the wrong section in it. In all the years I've been involved with computers I've only seen a handful of crosslinked files.


The other is slack space, which is the portion of the last cluster of a file which the file contents may not completely fill. In theory this could contain the remnants of a previously deleted file. That wouldn't appear at all as file contents, and would need some degree of forensic examination such as the use of a hex editor to find it. If someone was concerned about this possibility, they could use one of various "scrubbing" utilities which erase slack space in files, and free space on the drive so deleted file content isn't "re-used" when new files are created.


But to me, someone would need to be fairly paranoid, or working in a security environment, to feel the need to take these sort of measures.

Edited by Platypus, 29 September 2013 - 05:41 PM.

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