- Got married – Posted pictures online ✓
- Had a birthday – Tagged some friends ✓
- Went out for lunch – Updated on social media ✓
In today’s world, everything is done online – from socializing to banking and from ordering food to dating. It’s true that the Internet has made everyone’s lives a lot easier and much more fast-paced than ever before. We’re always connected, always posting information online. With more and more data being uploaded on the internet, it’s only a matter of time before your old data gets pushed aside and other newer data takes its place. But does this spell doom for the data that you never use but which might still hold value? What about the relevant bit of information you added to the internet about 10 years ago? Is it still there or is it gone?
Online Data Retention: How Long Does Your Data Stay on the Internet?
How Long Does Your Data Stay Online?
How long does data stay on the internet? Technically, it stays forever, unless it’s deleted. Here are some most important causes of data deletion.
Data Storage Sources
The future retrievability of your data depends on the place where you have stored it. Obviously, if you have it on your own personal drive, then there is little chance of losing it. Even if the drive crashes, you can still retrieve the data using many techniques. But if your data is in the cloud, then that is a whole different story. You have to understand that the larger the cloud, the more the data it is going to store. But even the biggest data servers have their limits. Once this limit is reached, the server will inevitably have to get rid of some data to accommodate growing user needs. So if you want your old data always ready for access, you should just have it stored on a personal drive.
Unless you use VPNs for secure web browsing (highly recommended!!), it is quite likely that your personal data is being used by your ISP. There is currently a great debate going around on internet privacy. ISPs, for whom user data (such as shopping habits and browsing history etc.) has high value, have argued that this is not ‘sensitive’ information and disseminating this info can lead to a better online experience. But it is still in many ways a violation of user privacy. When it comes to this kind of data storage, the more recent the data is, the higher the chances of it being stored safely. So that info on your canceled card which you haven’t used in the last year is definitely up for deletion.
Changes in Links
This is one of the more direct reasons for why data gets ‘lost’. If you forget the URL of that particular bit of information that you need right now, you’ve effectively lost it. Be assured that the data is still probably there, but you won’t be able to find it unless you try several measures to remember where it was stored. And let’s say you do remember where you stored the data but the website you used has changed its link structure – the link you’ve kept saved will not work anymore. If you save URLs of important pages, they may stop working over a few years.
When you delete an account or it gets deleted for you, whether officially or for any other reason, chances are the associated data will also be lost. Some social media sites come with the exception of temporary data storage. Your data on your closed Facebook account will stay there for some time at least. This facility helps people retrieve their personal info like photos, conversations etc. even if their account is closed.
Not all websites have a data storage facility. For example, if you create a blog on a new blogging website and after some time, the website closes down, the blogs you have created can also be destroyed. Different websites have different policies on what they plan to do with their content if they ever decide to shut down.
This one is pretty obvious but it’s worth a mention. If you delete your online data for whatever reason, you naturally lose access to it. However, this might not necessarily be the case for other parties. Under normal circumstances, when a user deletes a particular bit of data, it is not immediately expunged from the dedicated servers. In fact, it still remains on the cloud even after days, weeks, or even months after you think you have removed it.
The Data Retention Dilemma
Now since you have relinquished your claim on the info, it is up for grabs for anyone with the right finances or the right skills. So, to counter this problem, we advise using a VPN which can mask your IP address, clear your sensitive information, and deliver you a safe and secure internet experience.
If you want your information to be saved even after years, you can save it on your personal device. And if you DON’T want any information on you online and want to stay anonymous, use a VPN and Tor for complete anonymity. Depending on your preferences, you can choose the way you want to access the internet.