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Fix a corrupt Recycle Bin in Windows

When an automatic update corrupts your PC's Recycle Bin

If an automatic update has corrupted the Recycle Bin on your Windows PC- or laptop, our Helproom Editor is happy to help.

QUESTION The application of an automatic update to my Windows 7 PC appears to have corrupted the Recycle Bin. System Restore hasn't helped, and I haven't been able to delete the Recycle Bin via a command prompt.

 Although the Recycle Bin appears to be empty, inside is a 7.8MB hidden folder called ‘S-1-5-21-1287572835-11547434736-1001'. This contains five more folders, each with a name beginning ‘$R...'. I cannot delete these.

I managed to rename the Recycle Bin ‘Oldrecycle.bin', and a new Recycle Bin appeared. This has stopped the constant ‘nag' about having a corrupt Recycle Bin, but I still can't delete the original. Please help. Wallace McLarty

HELPROOM ANSWER It sounds as though you've already tried the advice we gave in our story: Help! My PC's Recycle Bin will only permanently delete files. You say that you can't delete the Recycle Bin, but don't describe the error message itself. This is always helpful in responding to reader queries. Knowing which Windows update was applied prior to the problem appearing can also be helpful.

You'll need to ensure that you're using an elevated command prompt with administrator privileges – click the Start button, type cmd, right-click cmd.exe in the search results and choose ‘Run as Administrator'. If a file is owned by another user, being an administrator isn't enough to allow you to delete it. As the administrator, however, you do have the power to take ownership of the file, and then delete it.

Right-click your oldrecycle.bin file and select Properties. Open the Security tab, then click Advanced. Open the Owner tab and click Edit. Select Administrators in the ‘Change owner to:' box, then press Ok.

Close any open windows. Right-click your file, then select Properties, Security. This time, choose Edit and select Administrators in the top pane. Ensure Full control is enabled in the bottom pane, then click Ok. You should now be able to delete the file when logged in as an administrator.

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

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