vb. To remove data permanently from a storage medium. This is usually done by replacing existing data with zeros or meaningless text or, in magnetic media, by disturbing the magnetic particles' physical arrangement, either with the erase head or with a large magnet. Erase differs from delete in that delete merely tells the computer that data or a file is no longer needed; the data remains stored and is recoverable until the operating system reuses the space containing the deleted file. Erase, on the other hand, removes data permanently. See also erase head. Compare delete.