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Help! My PC's Recycle Bin will only permanently delete files

Delete the Recycle Bin and force Windows to make a new one

If you find your PC- or laptop's Recycle Bin no longer allows you to store things in it, and simply deletes them forever, you need to follow our Helproom Editor's advice.

QUESTION The Recycle Bin on my Windows 7 PC no longer retains deleted files. When I delete a file I now get a warning that it will be permanently deleted.

I've already checked my settings: the capacity of the Recycle Bin is set to 16,375MB; the option 'Don't move files to the Recycle Bin, remove files immediately when deleted' is disabled; and the option 'Display delete confirmation' is enabled.

The problem appeared after I downloaded a set of Windows updates, but rolling back the PC to before they were applied doesn't solve the issue. Please advise me on what to try next. Vincenzo Boccardi

HELPROOM ANSWER The steps you've already taken should have fixed the problem, so we suspect that your Recycle Bin has become corrupted. Note, however, that files stored on a networked or removable drive will always bypass the Recycle Bin, as will very large files. Be sure to test its operation using a small local file that you don't mind losing.

Other readers experiencing the same problem should follow the steps described by Vincenzo: right-click the Recycle Bin and select Properties. Ensure that Custom size is selected, 'Don't move files to the Recycle Bin…' is disabled, and 'Display delete confirmation dialog' is enabled.

If this doesn't solve the problem, deleting the Recycle Bin and forcing Windows to create a new one may do the job. Windows has a Recycle Bin for each drive letter, but you'll need to enable the viewing of hidden files to see this in Windows Explorer. The easiest way to find and delete it, without permanently changing your settings, is to use the command prompt. See also: Fix a corrupt Recycle Bin in Windows.

Click the Start button and type cmd in the Search field. Look for cmd.exe in the search results, then right-click it and select ‘Run as Administrator'.

On the assumption that C is your primary drive, type rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin and press Enter. This will delete the Recycle Bin from drive C; repeat the procedure and/or substitute the C for other drive letters if necessary. The ‘rd' command removes folders, while the /s switch instructs it to also delete any subfolders. The /q, for quiet mode, disables any status messages.

Finally, type exit and press Enter. Windows will close the command prompt and carry out your request. We hope this will solve your problem – please let us know how you get on.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

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