On Windows 7, I do not see files that I delete from the local computer in the Recycle bin. The problem occurs all the time in an otherwise healthy computer. The funny part is that if I have the RECBIN window open, and go to another window and delete a file, it WILL show up in the RECBIN!

I have tried 2 solutions suggested on the net:

  1. Installing and running ccleaner (the 'fix' operations)

  2. Using an elevated command line to delete ( rd /s /q C:\$RECYCLE.BIN ) the folder C:\$Recycle.bin. From here

But I still can't see the files that I delete in my recycle bin.

Here are my observations :

  • If the RECBIN is empty and I delete a file, the RECBIN icon on the desktop changes to a "full" state.

  • If I double and open the RECBIN I will NOT see any files in it (as I should).

  • If I try to restore this one file that I just deleted (by clicking on button "restore all items") the file will also NOT be restored.

  • If I try to delete all items, the pop up window will rightly count that I have exactly 1 file in the RECBIN and ask me to verify that I permanently want to delete it. Saying yes will also clear the desktop RECBIN icon (it'll show an empty RECBIN).

  • Stating the funny part, again: If I open the RECBIN window and let it open, and then go and delete a file, the file WILL show up in RECBIN normally!!! This is most odd.

Like I said, ccleaner and rd /s /q C:\$RECYCLE.BIN solutions did not work for me (even after a restart), so i'm all ears for anything else you have to suggest!

Thank you very much in advance for your help!

EDIT: for the shake of completeness I'll just add that I am running the latest version of ESET antivirus business edition. This is an office environment and the AV's have been in place for a long time. It doesn't automatically mean I wouldn't have a virus, but i'm not unprepared.

  • smells like a virus. – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 19:14
  • Have you tried to delete it using SYSTEM user privileges? (I can tell you how) – Jet Jul 29 '13 at 10:44

Thank you everyone for your help. It appears the answer lies in something I had not thought about - and didn't inform you about.

The computer is loaded with civil engineering structure analysis software. This software uses usb license keys, as a means of protecting software piracy and fraud.

Normally these keys are 24/7 on the computer as their corresponding applications are used on a daily basis, but once I removed them and restarted the pc, voila I could see the contents of the recycle bin normally.

This is not exactly a solution , but really pinpoints the cause of the problem - It is possible Windows consider the USB keys as some sort of storage(?) device and try to create the corresponding X:\$RECYCLE.BIN folder , where X is the drive letter of the USB key. Then again these usb sticks never show up as removable storage devices in windows explorer, so I don't really know.

Still in the short term this is a quick fix.

THank you all once again for your help.

This link gave me the idea to try that: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/cant-see-deleted-files-in-windows-7-recycle/28b20a44-c2d8-4814-a968-2448f5e2755c

  • 2
    the $RECYCLE.BIN directory on the removable device should not effect your global recycle bin... this is strange. – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 19:29
  • it seems irrelevant, i agree. However, powering up without the usb keys was the only thing I did differently and it solved the problem. Go figure... – nass Mar 22 '13 at 23:08
  • No, files deleted from a flash drive merely disappear, even in Windows 7. – MarcusJ Mar 23 '13 at 5:09
  • @MarcusJ hi there, the usb license keys are not flash drives. however, it is possible - due to some bug in the way windows 7 identify potential drives to place $RECYCLE.BIN directories - that the whole system fails to present deleted files exactly because it can not identify the usb devices correctly. – nass Mar 26 '13 at 16:19
  • I know they're not, I was answering the other commentor that said they ended up in the recycle bin, I've lost files for ever by "putting them into the recycle bin" and them just deleting themselves instead. – MarcusJ Mar 26 '13 at 20:06

I agree with SankeDoc, that this may be virus related, but I would go at it a different way.

Here are 3 things you can do which may resolve your issue.

  1. Run Malware Bytes or SpyBot S&D to make sure there isn't anything else (malware/spyware/adware) messing with your system.

  2. Update your Antivirus software definitions and run a complete virus scan. An additional free online scan at eSet just to make sure its all gone might be a good idea.

  3. Once you know the system is clean, open an elevated command prompt and run SFC /SCANNOW to run the System File Check. When it is done, reboot.

  • usually Antivirus protection programs will not find any infections (or the right infections) once a system is compromised. Any virus coder now-a-days worth his 2 salts specifically targets the antivirus program and renders it noneffective. This is the very reason program like Combofix exist. Also, for SFC to run properly (especially from a once infected machine) it is critical you first SFC /PURGECACHE - otherwise SFC is replacing corrupted dll's with infected ones. Also, for SFC to work properly you need your installation disk in the computer (so it can get clean copies of dll's) – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 19:08
  • 1
    if you are afraid of Combofix, I'd suggest running SuperAntiSpyware in addition to the MalwareBytes CharlieRB recommended. Skip SpyBot entirely... it's old school and not very effective anymore. (sorry CharlieRB ;-P ) – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 19:10

CCLeaner will never fix anything -- its a temp. file cleanup utility, nothing more.

Sounds like you may have a virus. Yes, even if you have a virus scanner, it is still possible (and likely) to have a virus.

Run ComboFix AFTER reading the how-to. Dragons Ahead! Improper use of combofix can destroy your computer! So read the how-to completely before trying.

Combofix is a virus removal tool used by professional IT servicemen (like myself). It's what we use to run on your pc when you bring it to our shop or call a serviceman out... that's right, you pay us a ton of money to run this program and then waive our hands like it's magic. It provides Zero real time protection. It is not a virus scanner or protection program. All it does is find and remove viruses, rootkits, etc.


The general gist of it:

  1. Download combofix, save it to your desktop or wherever.
  2. Run it as administrator (on xp simply run it, on vista+ right click then click on "Run as Administrator").
  3. It will load, download some stuff, do some other stuff, ask you if you want to install the recovery console (say no).
  4. It will do some more stuff. Do not use your PC while it is running! It may take up to and over an hour (however usually is quicker).
  5. It may reboot your computer automatically. This is normal and means it's removing a particularly difficult virus. If you have a password for login, enter it, but then wait for it to complete.

You will know it's complete when there is a notepad window opened automatically fullscreen. This is the log report of what it found/removed. In particular you would want to look at the "Other Deletions" section near the top. The rest is informational to the technician.

Good luck.

  • CCLeaner will fix slowness due to too many temp files and a bloated reg :-D – MDMoore313 Mar 22 '13 at 15:52
  • 1
    unfortunately this is simply not true. removal of temp files may impact certain things, but "cleaning" the registry has zero effect... ever. Registry cleaners are frivolous and sometimes can cause more problems. - Also, the various "free" registry cleaners available on the web are typically common attack vectors for injecting malicious software. CCleaner is reputable and I trust it, however sadly the registry cleaner is more to make one "feel good" instead of actually doing anything. It's equivalent to defragging hard drives in today's time (OS are now great at keeping things in order) – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 15:54
  • ^ ran out of room -- OS's are great at keeping things in check filesystem-wise now-a-days and the need to defrag is almost gone (win vista+ automatically does disk cleanup regularly which involves a defrag check). – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 15:57
  • So what about cleaning up file associations to programs that are no longer installed? Where the user double clicks on a .doc file but since Word isn't installed it just poops out, for lack of a better phrase. The reg is a database and invalid pointers can cause lack of performance. A prime example is when if I right-clicked on my desktop but had tons of invalid entries for my desktop context menu, it would be ages before that menu appeared. – MDMoore313 Mar 22 '13 at 15:59
  • @MDMoore313 it is exactly like a database, which is why "registry cleaners" have no effect. The system (windows) does not look at all registry keys in the registry for every lookup, they are ID'ed and it queries those ID's, and returns the results. Having invalid pointers does nothing, except be annoying. It should not slow down menu load since windows is only displaying what the registry tells it, it is not looking up the registry, then finding the program, program path, etc. thats all given to it. Also, an unistaller should remove it's registry key associations... should... – SnakeDoc Mar 22 '13 at 16:08

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