Chain of events:

  • Empty Recycle Bin silently fails. Tried it repeatedly.

  • Selected ranges of items in Recycle Bin and deleted them (some didn't work), narrowing down until only one item was left: a folder called Container.

  • Attempting to delete Container, restore it, or Empty Recycle Bin all silently fail: nothing happens, no error message.

  • Logging in as Administrator, that user sees a different recycle bin, that doesn't contain Container.

How to delete this folder from the Recycle bin without destabilising the system?

(On Windows Vista.)

  • The fact your unable to delete a folder within a profile's recycle bin already is evidence your system is unstable.already
    – Ramhound
    Jan 7, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    @Ramhound It's quite stable. It crashed only once over the last three years and typically can last for a couple of months of uptime between restarts. The inability to delete a file is just another bug in Windows. It seems like it should be pretty easy to fix, so you might wonder why it hasn't been done yet, with so many users coming across the issue again and again. If their code had no flaws, they wouldn't be able to sell support! Either that or it's a minor issue stuck in a backlog of a million bugs. Jan 8, 2014 at 0:44
  • I have never encountered this problem and have had migrated the same system image since 2001 across multiple systems. I was a just pointing out the user profile obviously corrupted
    – Ramhound
    Jan 8, 2014 at 3:59

4 Answers 4


What worked for me was:

  • Shift + right click Command Prompt and Run as Administrator.

  • cd C:\$Recycle.Bin

  • Now, using dir says "File Not Found", but autocompletion still works, so we can find the names of the directories here by typing, for example dir then pressing Tab repeatedly.

  • Thanks to this answer, rd /s (remove directory recursively) on each of the folders in the C:\$Recycle.Bin. For me, they have names starting with "S" and followed by numbers and hyphens, like "S-1-2-3-1234567-12344-121212".

  • After that, the recycle bin is back to normal and the stuck folder is gone.

This may be related to a path of a file or folder in the Recycle Bin being longer than some limit. Some alternatives are suggested in this answer: (a) dealing with long file names using UNC \\.\... path notation and (b) using RoboCopy.

What was also useful is enabling Windows Explorer to show hidden system files and folders, like C:\$Recycle.Bin (may be called different on different systems, such as "Recycler"), by: pressing Alt to show the menu in Windows Explorer, Tools | Folder Options, View tab, uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).

  • 4
    I had to kill the explorer.exe process but after that your answer rd /s foldername in cmd.exe as admin worked.
    – Jo Smo
    Aug 27, 2015 at 10:36

This trick has worked for me every time without fail. First turn on hidden files and folders. Next go to your System 32 Folder and Highlight the folder so you can see all folders and files within that Folder.

Next locate a file entitled "qedit.dll". First you will have to take ownership of that file so you can temporarily relocate it. Once relocated to a place where it will be unable to interact with the System32 Folder, go to your recycle bin and delete your files noting that this time Windows Explorer will not crash and will allow you to empty your recycle bin. Then simply relocate the "qedit.dll" file back to the System32 folder and your done.

Absolutely guaranteed to work every time!


The file may be either blocked by an anti-virus and in that case is considered in-use, therefore not eraseable, or, you have insufficient permissions to erase it, in which case you will have to assimilate permissions for recycler and then delete it. To do that: RightClick Properties Security Edit Add -here put your login user (must be administrator), give it full control press OK, OK. Then delete the recycler.


Sometimes if you close the recycling bin and reopen it, it will show the items have been deleted; large numbers of items being deleted at once from the bin can lag the output data.

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