How to Fix Corrupt Recycle Bin in Windows 10 and Earlier OS

There are situations where you need to reset the Recycle Bin store folder to fix problems such as Recycle Bin not showing the files that have been deleted. In some cases, you may be unable to completely empty the Recycle Bin. Each drive has a hidden and protected folder named $Recycle.bin, which is where the Recycle Bin stores files that you and other users on the computer delete. Windows creates a fresh $Recycle.bin folder automatically after you reset it.

recycle bin store folder

If you change to the directory of the Recycle Bin store folder using Command Prompt, you’ll see some cryptic file names. When you delete a file, the Recycle Bin assign a obscure file name and stores it. Only Windows knows the file name mappings.

recycle bin store files
Recycle Bin store folder contents

Due to corruption of the store folder, certain weird things can happen occasionally. Resetting the store fixes corrupt Recycle Bin in most cases.

Fixing a corrupt Recycle Bin in Windows

IMPORTANT: The following procedure permanently deletes all files and folders which are already in the Recycle Bin (from all user accounts in the system) and cannot be recovered.

1. Open an elevated Command Prompt window.

2. Type the following command and press ENTER:

rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin
recycle bin rd $recycle.bin
Remove $Recycle.Bin store folder

This clears out the $Recycle.bin folder on the C:\ drive. You need to do this for each hard disk partition in your system.

3. Type EXIT to close the Command Prompt window.

While the above method fixes Recycle Bin store folder corruption, it woudn’t help fix any cosmetic problems (e.g., Recycle Bin showing incorrect icon) with the Recycle Bin.

Related articles

  1. How to Empty the Recycle Bin Using Task Scheduler?
  2. Fix Recycle Bin Icon Does Not Refresh Automatically
  3. Restore the Recycle bin icon that has been accidentally deleted
  4. Restore Missing Recycle Bin Desktop icon in Windows 10 (Registry Fix)
  5. How to Empty the Recycle Bin In a Single Click in Windows 10?
  6. How to Empty the Recycle Bin Without the Confirmation Window Showing Up?

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

50 thoughts on “How to Fix Corrupt Recycle Bin in Windows 10 and Earlier OS

  1. You are GOD. Three months without solutions neither in Microsoft Forums! Thanks too much. Solved “Access Denied” message.

  2. Nothing happens when I hit Enter. The cursor goes to the next line and blinks at the beginning of the blank line. Can’t type there. What now? ugh.

  3. This did not work for me. I tested it by putting a folder into the recycle bin. It was not in the bin when I opened it. My Windows 7 is 64 bit. Would this make a difference.

  4. Fantastic worked like a charm i had like 300mb hiding in there, our workstations only allow for only 700mb server storage, so its a big thing

  5. hello,

    I’m having a problem with my windows 7.
    i cant open recyle bin, i cant open my documents and files, and even if i will upload photos in the social networks sites it did not open.
    please help me how can i solve this problem

  6. I showed a residual count after I did a McAfee shred of my recycle bin. I performed your process and it cleaned up the count like magic! Thanks.

  7. If you get access denied, that means the security is messed up on the files in the recycle bin. Go to the Recycle bin in explorer, right click choose properties. From Properties choose tab called security. From security, click advance. go to owner tab and choose edit, click Administrator and check the replace a sub-objects. close out of the security and properties so your back at explorer. Right click on recycle bin again and go back to security. Choose Advance, this time edit the security tab, check the box so all descendents get this permission (second check box). click ok, it will go through adding security. once finished, you should be able to run the process that this article had you try.

  8. Windows is gradually becoming more useless. I tried to do this for my corrupted Recycle Bin and continuously got 2 lines saying the directory is not empty. Do you have a fix for that or is it just for people who have a “basic” problem

  9. I just did the above steps for my external drive but the problem is there are some folders which are named by adjacent number (1030 1031… ). When I execute this command I get the access denied error in command prompt. I guess this folders were created when I gave my external drive to a friend for sharing and his system restore created them. I cannot plug it into his computer for deletion cause we are far away now.
    Deleting the files wre tricky too, I used a software named unlocker and I thought the files were erased. But now I see that everytime I plug my HD the files appear in the recycle bin and I have no acces to them for restoring back or for deletion. Waiting for your suggestions thanks.

  10. did not work. it says file name directory name or volume label syntax is incorrect for a lot of files that have :: in the file name. I can’t delete them no matter what, why is Windows so useless

  11. I have Windows 7, and I’m having the same problem. Thank you for the screen shot, it helped me see that I was in the right place. I tried the fix and this is what happened.

    C:\$Recycle.bin\S-1-5-18 – The directory is not empty.
    C:\$Recycle.bin\S-1-5-~3\$DBABF~1 – The directory is not empty.

    Thanks for any and all help you can give. I very much be appreciate it.

  12. i tried the specified method and i was denied access. what else can i do to fix this issue? somebody please help me.

  13. Work as a charm!!!! Thank you so much. I had tried so many other things and it did not work and you just saved me. Thanks

  14. Worked wonderfully! I had three .mkv files from a show that I had tried to delete with all the methods I could find (except this one), and none of them worked :(.
    I had very little faith in this one, but when I looked back at my Recycling Bin, it was empty!
    Thank you sooo much WinHelpOnline!

  15. Thanks!Using this tip I was finally able to empty my recyle bin of delteted files from an old usb drive. Just got 140MB back

  16. Thank you! idk y but everytime i run Speed up my pc of uniblue powersuite i have to do these to my recycle bin!

  17. Thank you got it to work.

    A bit easier though check show hidden files and show protected files in folder options

    then you can just delete the $Recycle.bin

    I have 6 drives in my comp and this was much much faster for me

  18. for the “access denied” issue run the command prompt as an administrator

    ie go to accesories and right click command promp and select run as administrator. Worked for me thanks :)

  19. I solved it in a very simple way. I had the same problem with my external hard drive. I deleted large files (rar, iso) and ccleaner stopped in 18% (vista) and 24% w7. I have two laptops and i tried to solve this with both.
    My solution:
    I did a disk clean with windows on the hd. Then I deleted a small file (went to recycle bin) and run ccleaner again.
    It worked!! It seems that the new small file on the recycle bin replaced the old big ones… This took me less than 2 minutes. I was trying to solve the problem two days!! Good luck!!

  20. This worked for me with a corrupted recycle bin file. It had one item but would not show up and the external drive f: was showing it was corrupted and if I want to delete files even though nothing was in it. The command line does work but you need to have administrators rights to do it.

  21. This did not help me. I typed the command correctly, but afterwards, the files in the bin show up and each one says “access denied” next to it.

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