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I'm trying to free up some space on the E: drive of a particular machine. In WinDirStat, I see $RECYCLE.BIN there is taking up 10+ GB, so I'd like to empty it. Seems simple enough!

I can't seem to figure out how. In Windows Explorer, there's one "Recycle Bin", and it's on the Desktop, outside of any lettered drive, and the lettered drives don't show $RECYCLE.BIN in them. The one Recycle Bin I do see shows as empty -- no files, zero bytes.

(The only answer I could find so far is something to do with permissions, but I even tried opening an Explorer window as administrator, and I still see nothing there.)

Any ideas? Thanks!

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Try: Right click on Recycle Bin, go to Properties. Configure each drive independently. On the E: drive, either disable or make the bin smaller. Windows automatically tries to allocate approximately 10% of EACH drive. If you manage the recycle bin automatically, all drives allocate 10%. If you manage them seperately, you can choose custom sizes.

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I see that, but I'm not sure how it helps me. Are you saying I should set E: to Maximum Size = 0 MB to empty it, and then set it back? – Ken Jul 16 '10 at 20:33
Windows automatically takes approximately 10% of the drive and holds the space for recycle purposes. So, if you have a 100G hard drive, the default is 10G is reserved. Reset the size downward to reduce the amount it holds. Emptying it just dumps whatever happens to be being held in the recycle bin at that moment, but doesn't do anything about how much space is being reserved. – Blackbeagle Jul 16 '10 at 21:11
What then is the behavior of when a limit is reached and exceeded for a drive? Depending on the behavior, I'm thinking maybe it can be used to divert it to another drive. – ahnbizcad Aug 2 '15 at 21:46

Open the recycle bin on your desktop.

Change view to "details" and then sort by "original location".

Select those files on the "E:" drive (click the first, use the scroll bar and then hold Shift while you click on the last).

Press Delete.

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This batch file works on Win7 x64:

@echo off
if [%1]==[] goto :Usage
if not exist "%1\$RECYCLE.BIN" goto :NotFound

  pushd %1\$RECYCLE.BIN
  echo. Removing contents of %CD%
  for /r %%a in (*) do (
    echo.   %%a
    takeown /f "%%a"
    del /f "%%a"
  goto :eof

  echo. Error: Problem accessing %1\$RECYCLE.BIN.
  goto :Usage

  echo. -=[%~nx0]=- Empty recycle bin for a single drive. Example:
  echo. %~n0 E:
  goto :eof

There will be errors for files not belonging to the active user profile if they have insuffcient permissions to take ownership (the files won't be removed). Run as administrator to get all users' files.

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Super! You are saviour :) I changed the del "%%a" line to del /F "%%a" for it to be able to delete also read-only files. Also I added takeown /F "%%a" as a previous line for good measure. – Roland Pihlakas Jun 6 '15 at 18:32
thank you @RolandPihlakas. I've incorporated your changes. – matt wilkie Jun 10 '15 at 18:50

You should just be able to show hidden files (and also protected system files) on the E: and then just right-click on the $RECYCLE.BIN and empty like the regular Recycle Bin.

via link

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OK, I un-hid system files in Explorer. Now I see $RECYCLE.BIN on E: -- it's a regular folder -- and inside it I see about 20 "Recycle Bin"s -- each of which is already empty. – Ken Jul 16 '10 at 20:39
on Win7 the path is to navigate to E:\$RECYCLE.BIN, r-click on 'Recycle Bin', and empty from there. However this still empties all drives not just the selected drive. – matt wilkie Jul 16 '10 at 21:21

I had this exact same problem. In SpaceMonger it was showing the $recycle.bin folder taking up tons of space even though I had set the recycle bin settings for that drive to 'delete things right away'. This is how I ended up finally deleting it as it would not show up in Windows Explorer even with hidden files shown.

in CMD...

D:\>rd $recycle.bin /s/q

rd is the command, D is the current location of the cmd 'cursor' and of course $recycle.bin is the folder, /s tells it to also do all subdirectories, and /q tells it to just shut up and delete things without prompting you.

Strangely the first time I ran SpaceMonger after executing this command it still showed up, but in CMD when I tried to browse to the directory it said not found. Then finally SpaceMonger caught up with me.

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In Windows Explorer make sure you can view hidden files/folders. Then Right click on $RECYCLE.BIN and click delete. If it tells you that certain files are system files, click yes to confirm delete.

The folder will remain in place but will now be empty.

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Do a standard "Disk Cleanup" on that drive:

Right-click on the drive and click "Properties". Select "Disk Cleanup" on the bottom right of the pie graph.

The Disk Cleanup window that opens will list at least one item in a checkbox list that will be the Recycle Bin. Make sure it is checked and click OK.

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