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I ran WinDirStat to scan the contents of my hard drive. I was surprised to see that the $RECYCLE.BIN folder on my D: drive takes 26 GB of space. I emptied the recycle bin, refreshed the folder in WinDirStat, but it still takes 26 GB of space.

I reduced the Maximum size of the recycle bin for this drive to 10000 MB for the main user of this computer, and disabled the recycle bin for the other user, and refreshed the folder in WinDirStat, but it still takes 26 GB of space.

I ran (in an elevated window) rd /s D:\$Recycle.bin, and refreshed the folder in WinDirStat, and finally it became empty.

  • Why was it taking up space even after I emptied it?
  • Why was it taking more space (26 GB) than the maximum allowed amount (10 GB)?

Update: After six months of using Windows (no re-install and no changes of settings related to the Recycle Bin) I used WinDirStat to check how big D:\$RECYCLE.BIN has become. It is now 29 GB. In Recycle Bin Properties, I select drive D, and it is still a custom maximum size (10000 MB).

  • 1
    I've seen situations where a $Recycle.bin created by another installation of Windows will not be recognized by your current installation of Windows. In that case, the contents of that folder will not be shown in your Recycle Bin. If I'm sure I don't need to recover anything from the $Recycle.bin folder I'll just delete it. – ADTC May 25 '14 at 18:29
  • I've moved my comment to an answer and expanded it. – ADTC Jun 8 '14 at 17:27
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  • Why was it taking up space even after I emptied it?
  • Why was it taking more space (26 GB) than the maximum allowed amount (10 GB)?

I've seen situations where a $Recycle.bin folder created by another installation of Windows will not be recognized by your current installation of Windows. In that case, the contents of that folder will not be shown in your Recycle Bin view.

Hence, emptying your Recycle Bin will not delete the files in that $Recycle.bin folder. This also means the contents of this folder will not count towards the quota of your Recycle Bin view, as it is just a regular folder to Windows, not a special folder connected to your Recycle Bin view.

If I'm sure I don't need to recover anything from the $Recycle.bin folder I'll just delete the whole folder permanently. Windows will automatically create a new folder if necessary.

This also happens with the .Trashes folder created by Mac OS X, although all OS X installations should be able to show its contents in their Trash view regardless of the originating installation.

When viewing the drive contents in Windows, enabling the display of hidden files and folders will reveal the .Trashes folder, which may also occupy space on the disk if you had previously deleted files on the drive using Mac OS X.

As with the $Recycle.bin folder, I would permanently delete the .Trashes folder if I know there is nothing to recover from it too. Mac OS X will automatically create it again when you plug the drive into an Apple computer.

Tip: In Windows, you can press ShiftDelete to bypass the Recycle Bin and permanently delete the selected items. OS X does not have this function natively but you can find ways to do it.

  • Thanks very much for posting this answer. It prompted me to check whether since January (when I completed deleted D:\$Recycle.bin) the recycle bin has again become bloated. If so, it would not be because of a past installation (since I made sure that in January the bin was completely empty). Using WinDirStat, I see the recycle bin is now 21 GB despite a maximum allocation of 10GB! (I haven't re-installed Windows since January.) – Kit Johnson Jun 10 '14 at 11:22
  • That is indeed strange. I wouldn't be surprised if the size was within a small margin of error but this is huge - more than double. Are you sure you have set the limit for the respective drive? Also try deleting the files in Recycle Bin which are just from this drive (see original location in detail view) and see if usage is reduced. – ADTC Jun 10 '14 at 11:51
  • I mis-typed yesterday; D:\$RECYCLE.BIN is actually 29 GB. I have double and triple-checked that it really is set to a maximum of 10GB, really for drive D. I just tried deleting a lot of large files from the recycle bin which has reduced the size to about 11 GB. These files were all originally deleted from drive D. My only other drive to have a recycle bin is C: (7GB). – Kit Johnson Jun 11 '14 at 9:28
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    I'm not sure if the date of deletion takes precedence over file size. Like for example, even if your limit is 10GB, if you delete 30GB very recently all 30GB stays in bin to help any recovery. But if you had 5GB from 1-2 months ago, and you delete 10GB or even 20GB today, the old 5GB is cleared out to make space for the new 10 or 20GB. Will need to research further on Windows Recycle Bin behavior. – ADTC Jun 12 '14 at 0:19
  • there were no other operating system installed in my computer, still happens this nonsense with to much space taking recycle bin – Darius.V Sep 28 '15 at 8:24
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The Recycling Bin doesn't shrink until after you delete a file.

  • Your answer needs explanation. What do you mean by "delete a file"? The OP deleted some files logically (they were moved to the recycle bin) and then "physically" by emptying the recycle bin. – pabouk Jan 24 '14 at 8:40
  • @pabouk: . . .to 10000 MB for the main user of this computer, and disabled the recycle bin for the other user, and refreshed the folder in WinDirStat, but it still takes 26 GB of space. I see no "delete" here. – surfasb Jan 24 '14 at 17:26
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    Please see more carefully the first paragraph: ... I emptied the recycle bin, ... --- Emptying a recycle bin should delete its content. As I understand it the logical deletion of some files precedes the first paragraph. From the description it seems clear that the recycle bin was not empty. --- It is not clear at all what do you mean by "delete" and "a file" in your answer. – pabouk Jan 24 '14 at 17:51
  • Thanks @pabouk for reading my question clearly. Yes, I certainly emptied the recycle bin. I did this several times because I couldn't understand why it still took up so much space. – Kit Johnson Jan 25 '14 at 7:27
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when you delete something into your recycling bin it still uses the memory but when you empty it, it makes the files able to be written over;invisible. if you didn't use run to completely wipe out the contents then you would noticed the files getting smaller slowly.

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    How does this explain why the recycle bin takes more space than allocated? – Kevin Panko May 25 '14 at 18:41

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