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We have a "Users" folder that is the root of all user files and network profiles.
I used a directory size utility (WinDirStat) to find the largest user folders and stumbled upon a strange and worrisome problem--thousands of files effectively hidden in the Windows Recycle Bin interface. Each user folder has a RECYCLER folder directly under "My Documents". \server1\Users\smithj\smithj's Documents\RECYCLER\S-1-5-21-nnnnnn

Very few of our users have PCs, most users login to a Citrix Application server from a simple Wyse terminal. Because most of their file activity is on network shares, the users (and we admins) have always understood there is no "Network Recycle Bin".

Until now...

The hidden RECYCLER folder for most users has thousands of files. Several things make this case unique:

  1. In most cases, none of the files are visible using the Recycle Bin interface
  2. The naming convention for the individual files should include a drive letter such as DC or DD, instead they all start with "D@" (e.g. D@1234.doc)
  3. I believe the @ symbol is preventing Windows from dereferencing the original files, so they are simply suppressed in the user interface.
  4. The files together consume tens of Gigabytes. They are not ghosts. Deleting some files does increase the Free Space on the drive
  5. It seems we actually do have a "Network Recycle Bin". By accident. Without real file names.

We have already decided we will delete all files older than X days. I can do that with a PowerShell script. Unlike this similar case, we are going to delete individual files instead of the entire folder

So finally to the Questions:

  • WTF? Has anyone seen these @ symbols in Recycle Bin files?
  • All network drive access is through Mapped Drives. Could this explain why the files are recycled? And hidden?
  • Although we run daily backups, I plan to tap this resource for last-resort file recovery. Any suggestions or warnings?
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