How To Fix A Corrupted Recycle Bin in Windows 7


One of the first things I do when I set up a new computer (or even an old one) is change the Recycle Bin settings. One of the biggest concerns with the Recycle Bin is the hard drive space that it wastes. I also find the delete confirmation notice a little annoying.

So I usually right click on the recycle.bin icon and go into properties and then type the number 1000 into the Custom size: box. With Windows XP there was a slider that I would always set to 1%. I would also always uncheck Display delete confirmation dialogue.

recyclebin_properties

recyclebin_properties

Another thing I would always do is go into the Folder Options in the Control Panel, click View and then click Show hidden files, folders, and drives, and I would uncheck Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected operating system files (Recommended). You’ll get a warning message when you uncheck the last one, just click Yes.

folder_options

folder_options

Now when I open Windows Explorer I see a folder on my hard drive named $RECYCLE.BIN, it’s usually hidden. If I right click on it I don’t have the option to Empty the recycle bin like you would expect, in fact it’s treated much like any other folder. But inside of that folder you’ll find a sub-folder called Recycle Bin – that folder acts like the recycle.bin should.

two recycle bins

two recycle bins

Every now and then I notice that there is more that one sub-folder called Recycle Bin and they both have the exact same files in them taking up the exact same space. But if you right click on the $RECYCLE.BIN folder and go into it’s properties it only shows the space being used equal to only one of the inner folders.

So my question is – how much hard drive space is my recycle.bin really taking up? The answer, I don’t know. Why does this happen? I think this happens when I plug in external hard drives (when backing up). Why? … I don’t claim to understand all the mechanics behind this stuff. Despite my lack of answers here I do know how to fix it until it happens again.


Just rename $RECYCLE.BIN. Doesn’t matter what. I just stick .old at the end so the name is $RECYCLE.BIN.old. Then I want to delete it but you will not be able to until you restart the computer. When the computer restarts you’ll see it’s recreated the $RECYCLE.BIN folder and then you can just delete the $RECYCLE.BIN.old.

recycle.bin.old

recycle.bin.old

I refer to this as a corrupted recycle.bin but I’m not sure if it’s corrupted or just the way it works. I still think it has to do with plugging in external hard drives and the system has to manage each one respectively. I’ve done this a few times in the past but don’t even bother with it any more on my system. I do currently have this double recycle bin thing. If it is taking up double the space in my case it still only works out to be about two Gigabytes.

 

About the Author

Terry Hollett

Terry is a self-taught computer aficionado, who after being exposed to Windows 3.1 in the early 1990's devoured every book and magazine on the subject he could get his hands on. A published author with over 20 years' experience building and servicing computers for friends and family he started his first website in 2002 and continues today at Hit Any Key.

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