Proven Ways to Recover Deleted Files From Recycle Bin

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. 

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.

Step 2. Locate the items you want to recover from the list displayed in the Bin.

Select the files in Recycle Bin

Step 3. Right-click on the item you want to retrieve and choose the Restore option. This will recover the deleted item to its original storage location.

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. Until 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

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 to recover deleted files after emptying the Recycle Bin.


Download and Install Disk Drill

Download and install Disk Drill for Windows, but DO NOT use your computer’s main disk. This is where the Recycle Bin is located, and you risk overwriting the data you want to recover if you use it before completing the recovery. 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.
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Launch Disk Drill and Select the Disk

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.
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Scan for Deleted Data

Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning for deleted data. We recommend that you let Disk Drill scan the entire drive using all of its algorithms, but you can select the scan type if you wish. 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.
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Preview Recoverable Files

As Disk Drill identifies recoverable files, they will be listed in the appropriate folder based on their file type. You can then preview the files in the Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, or Archives folders to make sure they are the files you want to retrieve. This is where you select the specific files that will be restored. You can also choose to recover all files found by the tool.
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Perform the Recovery

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. Once again, we advise you not to use the disk where the Recycle Bin is located. Save the recovered files to an external disk or USB drive to preserve the data you wish to recover. Using the C: drive risks overwriting or corrupting the files before they can be restored.
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free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

Disk Drill Data Recovery Software vs Basic Windows Tools

Parameter

Disk Drill

Basic Windows Tools

Ability to recover files from an emptied Recycle Bin.

Yes. Disk Drill can recover files and folders that have been permanently deleted from the Recycle Bin.

You cannot recover files from an empty Recycle Bin with native Windows tools. You might be able to recover a previous version of the file.

Recover deleted files that are larger than the Recycle Bin.

Yes. Disk Drill can recover files that are deleted without going to the Recycle Bin.

No. You will not be able to use basic Windows tools to recover a file that is too large for the Recycle Bin.

Recover the most recent version of a deleted file.

Yes. Disk Drill scans your drive and recovers the most recent versions of a lost file.

No. The best that native Windows tools can do is recover a previous version of a deleted file.

Recover recently deleted photos.

Yes.

Yes. If they are still resident in the Recycle Bin, they are easily recoverable.

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. Configurable limitations regarding storage space and elapsed time instruct the operating system to permanently remove items from the Bin. You can also permanently delete files using a specific keystroke combination. Here are the factors you need to keep in mind concerning the Window Recycle Bin and why your deleted file cannot be found.

Space limitations

The Recycle Bin is sensitive to storage space in two ways. By default, the Recycle Bin takes up about 5% of your main disk space. You can configure this as you wish to allow more space to be used. This can be beneficial to address the potential issues that can be caused by limited Recycle Bin space. 

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. 

Removing files after 30 days

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.

FAQ

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.
Approved by
Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments