How to Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin After Emptying

Robert Agar
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how to recover deleted files from recycle bin via disk drill

Windows Recycle Bin has been a part of the operating system since its early days. The bin is a special folder that temporarily holds deleted files and folders. It has helped millions of users over the years by making it possible to quickly restore a file that was mistakenly deleted.
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How to Recover Deleted Files From the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin is the first place to look when searching for deleted files. It is a special folder that the operating system uses to temporarily store recently deleted files and folders. Here are the easy steps to follow to attempt this data recovery method.

Step 1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking on its icon.

Windows 11 recycle bin icon

Step 2. Select the files you want to recover.You can hold the CTRL button on your keyboard and click on individual files to add them to your selection. If you want to select all files, you can press the CTRL + A key combination.

Step 3. Right-click any of the selected files and click Restore. The files will return back to their original locations. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the selected files to any location you want.

Windows 11 recycle bin restore

Why is it Possible to Recover Files from an Emptied Recycle Bin?

The Windows Recycle Bin is just a folder that is essentially the same as any other folder on your machine. When a file or folder is deleted from your computer, it is logically moved from its original location to the Recycle Bin. When the Bin is emptied either automatically or manually, the logical links to the data are deleted by the operating system.

This makes the data inaccessible by any applications but does not immediately physically remove it. The space that had been occupied by the items in the emptied Recycle Bin is now available to the operating system to store new information. Untill the OS uses this space and overwrites the previous data, files can be retrieved with data recovery software.

How to Recover Deleted Files from an Emptied Recycle Bin

There are several ways to recover files from an emptied recycle bin. An application is usually the most user-friendly way, but there are a few other ways too. For instance, you could use the Windows File Recovery tool or use the built-in Backup and Restore feature in Windows.

Method 1: Recover Files using Data Recovery Software

A data recovery application can restore files that have been permanently deleted from your computer, an option that is not offered by the operating system. Follow steps below in order to use Disk Drill Data Recovery to recover deleted files after emptying the Recycle Bin.

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows. We suggest using a flash drive or external USB drive for the download and installation to preserve your lost data. You may need to provide system-level credentials during the installation. You will be guided through the installation process by pop-up windows.

Disk Drill installation Step 2. Start Disk Drill and choose the disk that contains the Recycle Bin from the app’s disk list. This will usually be your C: drive. Launch Disk Drill Step 3. Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning for deleted data. As the scan proceeds, a status bar shows its progress. You can pause the scan at any time and view files already found while the scan continues. select recovery method Step 4. Select the specific files that will be restored. You can preview them in the Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, or Archives folders to make sure they are the files you want to retrieve. You can also choose to recover all files found by the tool. preview files for recovery Step 5. Click the Recover button after making your selections and Disk Drill will perform the recovery. You will be prompted for a safe storage location where the recovered data can be saved. Save the recovered files to an external disk or USB drive to preserve the data you wish to recover. recover selected files

Method 2: Recover Files with Windows File Recovery Tool

Windows File Recovery tool is a command-line utility from Windows that can help you recover files from an emptied recycle bin. However, it’s only available if you’ve installed the May 2020 update of Windows 10 or a newer Windows version. We’ll walk you through the steps you need to follow to use the Windows File Recovery tool.

Step 1. Download and install the Windows File Recovery tool from the Microsoft Store. Click on Get and let the app windows file recovery

Step 2. Once it’s installed, press Win + X and select Windows Terminal (Admin) from the list that pops up. Alternatively, you can also launch the Command Prompt as an administrator by pressing Ctrl + R, typing cmd, and pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

Step 3. To make sure the utility has been properly installed, type winfr in the utility. This will also give you a list of switches you can use.type winfr command

Step 4. Next, type the following command in the terminal:

winfr C: D: /regular /n \$Recycle.Bin\%SID%

What this command does is it scans the recycle bin, and recovers the file to the D drive. You can change the command based on the path you want to scan and the drive where you want to recover. Note that the SID is different for all users. If you’re not sure what your SID is, you can use the following command to find out a user’s SID.

wmic useraccount get name,sid

sid command

Method 3: Recover Files Using Backup and Restore

If you’ve turned on File History on your PC, you can recover your files that you’ve deleted from your recycle bin using File History in the Control Panel.

To check if you have File History enabled, navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > File History > Save backup copies of your files with File History.

file history is activeIf it’s enabled, go to Control Panel > System and Security > File History > Restore your files with File History. You’ll see a window pop up. Here, navigate to the recycle bin folder, select the file you want to recover, and click on the green button at the bottom to recover the file.

recover your file historyIf you didn’t find the recycle bin folder in here, it’s probably because that folder isn’t backed up by File History.

Method 4: Recover Files with Windows Previous Versions Tool

Windows has a built-in tool for recovering previous versions of a file. The tool requires that you at least have the file on your PC.

This is only possible if you’ve turned on System Protection and have the files backed up elsewhere. Alternatively, if you’ve deleted the file from your recycle bin, you’d first need to recover it using one of the prior methods. If the recovered file doesn’t work, you can recover the file’s previous version.

The tool isn’t always effective though. Plus, the tool works only if you have either created a restore point or activated file history. However, it’s still worth a try.

To see if you can recover the file’s previous version, navigate to the file’s location, right-click on the file, and select Restore previous versions.

file has previous versionIf there’s a previous version available for a file, you’ll see it listed in the File versions section. Select a version you want to restore and click the Restore button.

restore previous version

Why Deleted Files May Not Be in the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin can be extremely useful for recovering recently deleted files. There are, however, several conditions that can result in a deleted item not appearing in the Recycle Bin. Here are the factors you need to keep in mind concerning the Window Recycle Bin and why your deleted file cannot be found.

Factor Description
📏 Space limitations Space is kept available in the Recycle Bins by rolling off the oldest files to make room for newly deleted items. This can result in files being deleted much sooner than expected if the space allocation is too low. Similarly, a file will not be sent to the Recycle Bin if it exceeds the Bin’s size. This can also lead to files that are not available in the Bin when that is where you expect them to be located.
⌛ Time limitation Windows automatically removes items from the Recycle Bin after a designated number of days. By default, data is retained in the Bin for 30 days. This number can be modified as you wish and you can opt for files to never be automatically deleted from the Bin. In this case, you need to manually empty the Bin periodically or risk running out of space for newly deleted items.
✂️ Permanent File Deletion Using the Shift-Delete keystroke combination bypasses the Recycle Bin and essentially permanently deletes the item. Data recovery software may be able to restore files and folders that have been deleted in this way.

Common Recycle Bin Problems

Missing Recycle Bin Icon

Solution: You can get the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop by following these steps.

1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.

2. Switch to the Themes tab.

3. Click the Desktop icons settings link.

4. Check the box for the Recycle Bin icon.

5. Click OK.

how to fix missing recycle bin icon

Recycle Bin is Corrupt Error

Solution: Resolve a Recycle Bin is corrupted message by performing this procedure.

1. Open a Command Prompt window as administrator.

2. Paste the following command and hit Enter:
rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin

3. Close the Command Prompt window and restart your computer.

If your Recycle Bin is not on the C drive, modify the command with the correct letter.

how to fix recycle bin corrupt error

Recycle Bin file association error

Solution: The best way to handle this error is to manually remove all of the items from the Recycle Bin. Open the Recycle Bin and verify that you really want to permanently delete the files it contains before performing the operation.


Robert Agar
Freelance Writer at Self-employed specializing in technology-related subjects. Extensive experience in IT with a focus on backup and recovery, disaster recovery, cloud computing, databases, and data management.
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Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments