On my Windows XP desktop system, I have the problem that the recycle bin empties itself whenever I open it, i.e. recently deleted items are visible for a second, with each file appearing twice, then they disappear (and this happens only once). Occasionally I'd like to undelete stuff rather than dig out the backups, so it's quite annoying.

This started when I added a second HD, separating the Windows and data partitions onto separate HDs. I did that via a Linux boot CD and the dd tool, and had some problem getting the boot loader to work, but eventually I had what I wanted, except that the data partition E: (now filling the entire second HD) showed up twice in "My Computer", with two different drive letters E: and P: leading to the same file system, and the problem with the recycle bin (which applies only to deleted files from that partition, not C:).

I managed to remove the P: drive letter in the disk manager, but it's still accessible if I enter P: as address in an explorer window and the recycle bin properties show separate configurations for E: and P: - interestingly, the P: drive is not present when I start in safe mode.

The recycle bin problem persists.

Any advice other than reinstalling Windows?


Right-click Recycle Bin -> Properties.

Is the "Space Available" for each of your drives sensible (ie, greater than 0)? If not, change it :)

(And maybe check whether the "Do not move files to the Recycle Bin" item is selected)

Be aware that those settings must be applied for each drive.

  • But does this explain the behavior he sees?
    – splattne
    Jul 21 '09 at 11:32
  • I'm just tossing ideas out there. The behaviour with regard to the Recycle Bin certainly appears consistent; I ignoring the other evidence because it may not be relevant :}
    – moobaa
    Jul 21 '09 at 12:06
  • No luck. However, an itneresting detail is that the properties dialog still shows the two separate "views" of the data partition as drives E: and P: Jul 22 '09 at 18:12

The folder for the recycle bin could have been damaged.

If you delete the Recycle Bin folder and then restart Windows, the folder will be re-created and restore its functionality. Restart Windows and press F8 at the Windows Startup menu, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

Navigate to the correct drive prompt (normally C: and cd C:\). Then type these two commands, pressing Enter after each line:

attrib -s -h recycler
rd /s recycler  

Then restart Windows normally and see if the recycle bin works.

  • This did not help. However, it might be an important hint that while the second "view" of the data partition is accessible as drive P: via the command line in normal mode, but not in safe mode. Jul 22 '09 at 18:14

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