Vista: How to Reset the Recycle Bin

Posted February 28, 2008 by Rob Rogers in Microsoft Vista

Sometimes the Recycle can become corrupted and prevent you from deleting files from it (or emptying it). By following a few simple steps, you can give full functionality to your Recycle Bin.

First, you need to be able to view hidden files and folders as well as protected operating system files. To do this:

1. Click the Start button.

2. Select Computer.

3. Press the Alt button on your keyboard to get the Menu to appear.

4. Click Tools and select Folder Options.

5. Select the View tab.

6. Under Hidden files and folders, make sure the Show hidden files and folders radio button is selected. Make sure the Hide protected operating system files checkbox is unchecked.

8. Click OK.

Now you’re ready to work on the Recycle Bin.

1. Select your C:\ drive (if your PC is running more than one OS, select the drive That Vista was installed on).

2. Find $Recycle.Bin.

3. Delete $Recycle.Bin by right-clicking the file and selecting Delete.

4. When asked if you want to permanently delete this folder, click Yes.

5. When asked to confirm the action, click the Continue button.

6. When the UAC prompt appears, click the Continue button.

7. When asked if you want to permanently delete this folder, click Yes.

8. The Delete File dialog will appear, check the Do this for all current items checkbox and click the Yes button. By clicking the checkbox, you will avoid having to confirm the deletion of each file.

After the deletion process has completed, restart your computer. When the system has restarted, the Recycle Bin will be fully functional once again. You can now go back to Folder Options and return the viewing of hidden files to their default settings.


About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
View more articles by Rob Rogers

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  • chris

    hey thanks for the advice, how ever it did not solve my problem.
    files that will not delet in recycle bin are still there.

  • Stephanie

    You’re amazing. Thanks, now i can get mt 12.4mbs of memory back. lol.

  • OP8

    Here’s one a little less intimidating. Create a new file on the desktop (say a text file), and rename it with exactly the same name as the one that won’t delete. Then delete that file. This then caused my recycle bin to freeze for a short time, and even a worrying message saying “windows had stopped working” and did I want to end it or wait for it to respond? Clicked on end, which (I think) restarted Explorer. Clicked on “Empty Recycle Bin”, and bingo!

    • dee

      thank you!! it works for me 😀

  • Mielcmin

    thank you so much!!!!!!! 😀

    • OP8

      Which solution worked for you?

  • Dtreble280

    Wow!! That worked! I spend all day trying to figure out how I lost 50GB of free space from my hard drive. Thank you!

  • julie ann

    tnx guyz,,ur a lifesaver…