Not Built for Deletion

A lot of apps that we use come equipped with default options to save everything. For example, removing the inbox label from an email in Gmail automatically results in the item being “archived.” Or with my iPad, when I delete photos from my Camera Roll, they are automatically saved to a temporary album called “Recently Deleted” photos where they will remain for 30 days. I always have challenges with this because my iPad automatically backs up the last 1000 photos I’ve taken, which includes the deleted photos stored in this temporary album. I deleted the photos for a reason, to make space for the photos I want to save and back up.

When I first noticed my deleted photos were being backed up on my iPad, I called Apple about this. It made no sense to me why valuable backup space was being used for things I had intentionally deleted. When I mentioned to the customer service rep that it didn’t seem like their systems and platforms were built for people like me who prefer to delete and organize, she agreed. She explained that when they didn’t set it up that way, people had called in a panic because they had deleted all their stuff by accident.

And yes, the accidental deletion is very upsetting and panic inducing. I know because I’ve done it a few times. I still feel a little hesitant using Google Note because it autosaves changes so fast and there’s no “undo” feature in case of an accidental deletion.

Though it seems to me like we’ve employed an extreme measure to safeguard everything. Is the best solution to accidental deletions really to save everything?  All the time? And sometimes without people knowing that their deleted stuff is being saved or “archived”?

When I delete something on my computer or from my email, my assumption is that the item is actually being purged, or expunged. I know on my home computer deleted items sit in my “trash” area for a designated amount of time, but eventually they get overwritten. They’re not secretly saved or “archived” somewhere that I don’t know about, to account for the rare time when I may have deleted something that I actually need years later.

So what’s the solution? As always, The Deletist advocates for strategic saving. Know what you have, identify what’s important, and devise plans/strategies to take care of these priority items.

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