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I was wondering if anybody knows whether it is safe to manually delete or move files found in LETTER:\$RECYCLE.BIN folders?

If a file is placed into the recycle bin and then I manually move it from the $RECYCLE.BIN folder does Windows notice that and update the recycle bin interface automatically?

To summarize what I've understood from the links kindly provided by DarkGhostHunter. The recycle bin's metadata is stored within the $RECYCLE.BIN/{user-guid}/ folder within a file entitled INFO or INFO2.

So to manipulate the content of the recycle bin one can do whatever you like with the files and then adjust the metadata manually to account for that. Alternatively if all you wanted to do was delete the contents you are safe to just delete the {user-guid} folders (or even the whole $RECYCLE.BIN folder) because the metadata is contained within it.

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Of course I mean safe as in I'm not going to corrupt (or cause un-removable orphans in) some index stored somwehere in Windows. – m3z Apr 23 '14 at 19:38
What are you trying to achieve? Why do you want to do this? Why not just restore from or empty the Recycle Bin normally? – joeqwerty Apr 23 '14 at 19:41
Just thinking I would write a little background utility that runs as a scheduled task that deletes files in recycle bin older than x days or something. – m3z Apr 23 '14 at 19:53
Hi @m3z, it's great that you found the answer to your question. As this is a Q&A site, we have questions and answers set apart from each other, so the second part of your question should actually be posted as an answer. It is totally OK to do so. – That Brazilian Guy May 6 '14 at 15:41
Hi @ThatBrazilianGuy yea I should know better being more active on several other stack exchange sites than I am here. I'll fix it later – m3z May 7 '14 at 16:14
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes. I did it some time ago and Windows 8.1 just created another one when I deleted the entire folder.

You usually do this before reinstalling Windows, or formatting the system drive, to free the disk from these dead files. Windows creates another folder inside of $RECYCLE.BIN to handle the data and separate their visibility between users. Either way, its safe to delete them all.

As stated in another answer, Windows creates metadata to know its properties and location, thus, manual manipulation of the file will disrupt in some way the relationship and Windows won't update the recycle bin interface automatically.

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Thanks. That link tells me all I need to know. Also I'm one of those people who although having installed windows more times than I can count has never trusted it to upgrade or install without a format first. – m3z Apr 23 '14 at 20:58
There is more information here if you want to dig up some more: – DarkGhostHunter Apr 23 '14 at 21:00
+1 Thanks again these have been very helpful. I've summarized my understanding above within the question. – m3z Apr 23 '14 at 21:13
@DarkGhostHunter, Are you sure these behavior are officially documented (from Microsoft)? Otherwise, it's likely that it might break things. – Pacerier Jul 9 '15 at 6:22
Well, it should but I haven't googled it myself to be sure. Anyway, you shouldn't manipulate manually the $RECICLE.BIN contents if you are not reinstalling Windows at least. – DarkGhostHunter Jul 9 '15 at 18:37

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