When you delete a file in Windows it is usually not permanently deleted. Instead, Windows moves the file to a special location called the Recycle Bin. First implemented in Windows 95, the Recycle Bin is a special directory where deleted files are stored in the event that you need to recover them. Sometimes the Recycle Bin is referred to as the trash, trashcan, or garbage. As a computer user, use of the Recycle Bin system is an extremely common task that is important to know about in order to effectively manage files. The purpose of this guide is to explain how to use the Recycle Bin to review, restore, and permanently erase your files. Additionally, this tutorial will cover some special settings that the Recycle Bin has.
The Recycle Bin can be accessed in a couple of different ways. The most straightforward way of accessing the Recycle bin is to click on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop, which looks like the following image.
The Windows 7 Recycle Bin icon
You can also access the Recycle Bin using Windows Explorer by navigating directly to the folder associated with the Recycle Bin. The folder name of the Recycle Bin, though, is different depending on the version of Windows that you are running. For example, on Windows XP the Recycle Bin is found at
It is important to note that there are some times when files are not placed in the Recycle Bin when you delete them. This occurs in three different situations. First, only files deleted from fixed disks are sent to the Recycle Bin. Files deleted from removable media, such as memory cards, USB/jump/flash drives, external hard drives connected via USB, and floppy disks, are not sent to the Recyle Bin, but are instead permanently deleted. Also, files deleted from within the Windows command prompt are not sent to the Recycle Bin and are instead deleted immediately.
Additionally, the Recycle Bin has a maximum amount of data that it will hold. Once that space is filled, the oldest files will automatically be deleted to make room for new files as they are moved to the Recycle Bin. This maximum size can be customized in the Recycle Bin's properties, which is covered later in this tutorial.
If you wish to retrieve a file from the Recycle Bin you may do so in two different ways. The first method, is to use the restore function built into the Recycle Bin. Select the files you wish to restore and then either click the Restore the selected items button on the top bar of the Recycle Bin window, or right click and select Restore. Alternatively, if you wish to restore every item currently in the Recycle Bin you can click on the Restore all items button at the top of the Recycle Bin window. Note that on Windows XP, these options are located on the left menu bar rather than on the top. It is important to note that when you use the Restore options in the Recycle Bin, the files will be restored to their original locations. For example, if you delete a file from the Desktop and then restore it, it will return to the Desktop.
Using the Recycle Bin's restore function
The second method is to simply open the Recycle Bin, select the files you wish to retrieve, and drag them into another folder on your computer. Please note that if you use this method, you can restore the file to any location you want rather than just the previous location.
It is important to remember that even though these files are deleted, they are still accessible and taking up space on your computer's hard drive. It is possible to permanently delete these files using two methods depending on whether you wish to delete specific files or every file currently in the Recycle Bin. Please note, that on Windows XP, the following options are located on the left menu bar rather than at the top of the window.
Deleting Individual Files
To delete specific files, select the files you wish to delete and then right-click and choose the Delete option.
Emptying the Recycle Bin
To delete every file currently in the Recycle Bin, simply click the Empty the Recycle Bin button at the top of the Recycle Bin window. You can also empty the Recycle Bin by right-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and selecting Empty Recycle Bin.
It is possible to configure the Recycle Bin according to your personal tastes and needs. These options can be accessed by clicking the Organize tab at the top of the Recycle Bin window, and then selecting Properties. When the Properties window opens, please select the tab marked General.
Recycle Bin Options
In this screen you will see a list of hard drive letters on your computer and how much total space each of them contains. You will then see a setting where you can specify the maximum size that the Recycle Bin will use for each of these drive letters. This setting is different for each drive, so you can select each drive and modify their individual settings as needed. This Maximum size setting is set to 5%-10% of the total size of the hard drive by default. It is noteworthy that on versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista the total size of the Recycle Bin may not exceed 3990 MB. Alternatively, you may turn off the Recycle Bin by selecting the radio button titled Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted. It is not recommended to select this option as it will make recovering deleted files impossible without the use of special tools.
Normally, when you move a file to the Recycle Bin via deletion, a confirmation dialog will appear to make sure that you wish to do so.
Delete Confirmation Dialog
Unchecking the Display delete confirmation dialog option will cause this dialog to no longer appear. It is recommended that you do not uncheck this option in order to protect yourself against the accidental deletion of files.
Every Windows user should be familiar with the Recycle Bin. Deleting files is a common occurrence and at times you may need to recover a file you have deleted. Properly configured, the Recycle Bin facilitates the easy recovery of recently deleted files from the hard drives of your computer. Making effective use of the Recycle Bin can potentially save you a great deal of time and money depending on the value of the files on your computer system.
A file extension, or file name extension, is the letters immediately shown after the last period in a file name. For example, the file extension.txt has an extension of .txt. This extension allows the operating system to know what type of file it is and what program to run when you double-click on it. There are no particular rules regarding how an extension should be formatted other than it must ...
Many organizations that use Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Services are not using a VPN connection before allowing connections to their in-house servers or workstations. If no VPN is required, this means that the Terminal Server or Remote Desktop is publicly visible and allows connections from anyone on the network and in most cases the Internet. This is a major security risk ...
When you install a program on to your computer it is important that the owner has full control over what actions are performed by this program. Whether that be because the machine is in an enterprise setting and you need to have perform patch testing or because your a consumer who wants to be notified and give consent when a program is being updated. Regardless of your reasons, it is every users ...
Almost everyone uses a computer daily, but many don't know how a computer works or all the different individual pieces that make it up. In fact, many people erroneously look at a computer and call it a CPU or a hard drive, when in fact these are just two parts of a computer. When these individual components are connected together they create a complete and working device with an all ...
The Windows Task Manager is a program that comes with Windows and displays information about the processes running and the resources being utilized on your computer. This utility allows you get a good overview of the tasks your computer is performing and the amount of resources each task is utilizing. Using this information you can tune your computer to run optimally and efficiently by disabling ...