I have just purchased a Buffalo MiniStation 500GB, USB 2.0 Portable HDD. I am using it on Windows XP Home SP3. The drive came pre-formatted with FAT32.

I notice that when I delete files, it asks me if I want to send them to a Recycle Bin. I had thought that external devices (flash/hard drives etc.) did not utilise the Recycle Bin - it was just for internal drives.

So why is there a working Recycle Bin on the drive? If I format the drive to NTFS, will I still have a working Recycle Bin or not on the drive?

  • I should add that when I access the external hard drive from "My Computer", it appears under "Hard Disk Drives" instead of "Devices with Removable Storage". Any ideas why this is? – Goto10 Sep 25 '11 at 10:12

According to Microsoft if it is a local hard-drive, it will have a recycle bin, it won't if it is a network-drive or a floppy-drive (or presumably similar device e.g. SD-card).

  • So because the drive is not local, then a Recycle Bin should not be present (but is). – Goto10 Sep 4 '11 at 18:55
  • I also notice that the HDD has a System Volume Information folder containing folder names beginning with _restore (for System Restore feature). I wonder why these files are present on an external drive? Maybe Windows incorrectly thinks this is an internal drive, which is why I get the Recycle Bin? – Goto10 Sep 4 '11 at 19:02

It has to have its own recycle bin, when you send a file to the recycle bin it is not really deleted, Windows just marks it as deleted in the Master File Table, it is still there on the hard drive, even when you permanently delete it, it is still there, Windows just deletes the entry from the MFT.

Since the external hard drive has its own MFT, then it needs its own Recycle bin also.

  • A believe a volume can work without a Recycle Bin. A deleted file is still marked as deleted in the MF table, but not allocated to the bin as such. – Goto10 Sep 4 '11 at 18:59
  • Then how do you restore it? – Moab Sep 5 '11 at 1:06
  • If a device has no Recycle Bin (like my flash drive), then restoring a deleted file is not possible via this method. (The only option would be to use an undelete tool, like Recuva to attempt to recover the remains of the file that are no longer represented by the file system.) – Goto10 Sep 5 '11 at 19:08

Formatting the external drive to NTFS will not change whether the Recycle Bin is enabled for it or not.

If you do not want this external drive to have a Recycle Bin :

  1. Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and choose Properties
  2. Click on Configure Drives Independently.
  3. Now choose your USB device Drive Tab
  4. Select the option "Do not move files to recycle bin".

If Windows ever decides to change the drive-letter it assigns to your drive, you will need to repeat the above process again for the new drive-letter.

  • I notice when I use a flash drive, I don't get a Recycle Bin. However, if I attach my HDD (Windows assigns the same drive letter as the flash drive - H), I do get Recycle Bin functionality. Strange how this functionality is different, even though the same drive letter is being used. – Goto10 Sep 4 '11 at 18:54
  • Interesting. There might be other criteria, for example the disk size. – harrymc Sep 4 '11 at 19:07
  • The flash drives I use are generally 16GB in size. My external HDD is 500GB. – Goto10 Sep 4 '11 at 19:32

I tried formatting the drive to NTFS (in Windows). I still have a working Recycle Bin! So I assume the answer (based upon my own experience) is that the external HDD has a working Recycle Bin by design.

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