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How the Recycle Bin Stores Files

This article was previously published under Q136517
When you delete a file in Windows Explorer or My Computer, the fileappears in the Recycle Bin. The file remains in the Recycle Bin until youempty the Recycle Bin or restore the file.

Older files are also removed from the Recycle Bin when newer files aredeleted and the Recycle Bin exceeds the maximum size allocated in RecycleBin properties.
Each hard disk contains a hidden folder named Recycled. This foldercontains files deleted in Windows Explorer or My Computer, or in Windows-based programs.

When you delete a file, the complete path and file name is stored in ahidden file called Info or Info2 (Windows 98) in the Recycledfolder. The deleted file is renamed, using the following syntax:
D<original drive letter of file><#>.<original extension>
New file name:

Dc1.txt = (C drive, second file deleted, a .txt file)

INFO file path:


New file name:

De7.doc = (E drive, eighth file deleted, a .doc file)

INFO file path:

E:\Winword\Letter to Rosemary.doc

Each drive has a Recycled folder. Files deleted from compliant programsare moved to the Recycled folder on the drive from which they are deleted.Double-clicking the Recycle Bin icon displays the folder listing ofdeleted files available for restoration.

Clicking a file and choosing Restore causes the original path to be readfrom the INFO file, and the file to be renamed and restored to itsoriginal path.

Damaged or Deleted INFO File

If the INFO file is damaged or deleted, no files appear in the RecycleBin. However, the renamed files still exist in the Recycled folder. Eventhough the files in the Recycled folder have been renamed, they are notchanged in any other way. For example, a text file is still viewable as atext file. To restore such a file, you can manually search for the file inthe folder and rename it.

If the INFO file is deleted, it is re-created when you restart Windows.If the Recycle Bin becomes damaged and stops functioning, deleting thehidden INFO file in the Recycle folder and restarting Windows mayenable you to again access files in the Recycle Bin. The INFO file is ahidden file. To delete the INFO file follow these steps:

  1. Open a command prompt window
  2. Type cd recycled
  3. Type attrib -h inf*
  4. Type del info

Damaged Files in Recycled Folder

No files may appear in the Recycle Bin if the files in the Recycled folderare damaged. If this is the case, create a copy of the Recycled\ Desktop.ini file in another folder, and then delete the entire contentsof the Recycled folder. Then, restore the Desktop.ini file to the Recycledfolder. Note that doing this deletes all files in the Recycle Bin.

If the Desktop.ini file is not present or is also damaged, it can berecreated by adding the following information to a blank Desktop.ini file:
     [.ShellClassInfo]     CLSID={645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}				

Damaged Recycled Folder

The Recycled folder itself can become damaged. Files are moved to thefolder and the Recycle Bin on the desktop appears full, but you cannotview the contents and the Empty The Recycle Bin command is unavailable.Deleting this folder and restarting Windows will re-create thisfolder and restore functionality:
  1. Restart to a command prompt.
  2. Type attrib -s -h recycled.
  3. Type del recycled.
  4. Restart the computers.

Article ID: 136517 - Last Review: 01/19/2007 13:31:46 - Revision: 2.2

  • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • kbinfo kbui KB136517