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I have several Windows hard drives with various files in their respective recycling bin directories: '$RECYCLE.BIN'

Is there a way to view information about these files to tell if they are no longer needed?

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In Windows XP and earlier, you can use the command line utility rifiuti to read the INFO2 file.
From Windows Vista and newer, use strings -el -f \$I* from the /$RECYCLE.BIN/{SID}/ directory. This will print out a listing of the original filenames for each file in the Recycle Bin.
-el tells strings to look for 16-bit little endian character encoding
-f tells strings to print filenames.

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