Recycle Bin Corrupted - Cannot Delete File or Folder

If you cannot Empty Recycle Bin or delete a file or folder inside the Recycle Bin, then this will show you how to fix the corrupted Recycle Bin so that you can by resetting it.
thumb_Recycle_Bin_Full.pngHow to Fix a Corrupted Recycle Bin in Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8

information   Information
If you cannot Empty Recycle Bin or delete a file or folder inside the Recycle Bin, then this will show you how to fix the corrupted Recycle Bin so that you can by resetting it. This is done by deleting the Recycle Bin of each affected hard drive to have Windows automatically create a new clean Recycle Bin afterwards that will work properly again.
warning   Warning
This will permanently delete all files in the Recycle Bin for all user accounts on the computer

To Fix Corrupted Recycle Bin Using an Elevated Command Prompt

NOTE: You may need to repeat this inside of each hard drive or partition letter that you have displayed in Computer.
2. In the elevated command prompt, type the command below and press Enter. (see screenshot below)​
NOTE: Substitute Drive-Letter in the commmand below for the actual hard drive letter that the $Recycle.bin file is on.
RD /S /Q Drive-Letter:\$Recycle.bin
For example: If I wanted to delete the $Recycle.bin file on the C drive, I would type this below.​
RD /S /Q C:\$Recycle.bin

3. Repeat step 2 for any other drive letter that you have.​
4. When finished, close the elevated command prompt.​
5. Right click on a empty area of the desktop and click on Refresh.​
6. The Recycle Bin should be empty now.​
NOTE: See also: Recycle Bin - Restore

To Fix Corrupted Recycle Bin in Windows Explorer

NOTE: You may need to repeat this inside of each hard drive or partition letter that you have displayed in Computer.
1. Open Folder Options, and click on the View tab.​
A) Select (dot) Show hidden files and folders.​
B) Uncheck Hide protected operating system files.​
C) Click on OK.​

2. Open the Start Menu. (see screenshot below)​
A) Click on the Computer button on the darker right side.​
NOTE: If you do not have the Computer button, then see OPTION ONE here to add it: How to Customize the Start Menu in Vista

3. Click on the C:\ drive to open it, or the drive that has Vista installed on it. (see screenshot below)​
NOTE: For the other hard drive letters, just click on that hard drive letter and repeat the same instructions below.​

4. Right click on the $RECYCLE.BIN folder, and click Delete. (see screenshot below)​
NOTE: If for some reason, Windows will not let you delete this file, then boot into Safe Mode and try to delete it again.

5. Click on Yes. (see screenshot below)​

6. Click on Continue. (see screenshot below)​

7. Click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
8. Click on Yes. (see screenshot below)​

9. Check the Do this for all current items box, then click Yes. (see screenshot below)​

10. Repeat steps 3-9 for any other hard drive letter that you have in the Computer window.​
11. Vista will then automatically create a new $RECYCLE.BIN folder and Recycle Bin on the Desktop for you afterwards.​
NOTE: You may need to press F5 to refresh the window to see the new $RECYCLE.BIN folder. If you still do not see a new one, then restart the computer to have it create a new one for you. See also: Recycle Bin - Restore
12. Right click on a empty area of the desktop and click on Refresh.​
13. Open Folder Options, and click on the View tab.​
A) Select (dot) Don't show hidden files and folders.​
B) Check Hide protected operating system files.​
C) Click on OK.​

That's it,

Last edited by a moderator:


Staff member
Your welcome TechSupport123, and welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

LOL, I love that image. Is that rock floating in air, or am I imagining things?



New Member
I just love this site man. I'm actually working for one of the biggest company in the U.S. as a tech support over the phone and I'm glad this site exist. :)


New Member
Ive tried everything on this site to empty my recycle bin but nothing works. they just stay there. i have not tried restarting the computer yet but everything else i have and nothing works. ive done the change your icon, ive tried that scan thing, and ive tried this method. so far no luck, just files still stuck in the bin that i cant delete. i even went to the folder where they were located in the recycle bin and still cant delete them. i would like to know if I am doing something wrong or if there is something else i can try less reinstalling my vista and all my softwares. if possible a direct contact with me to EMAIL LINK REMOVED BY Brink (Spammers will get it) would be easier for me to remember to check this. with finals and all my brain has been sludge lately lol


New Member
ok as long as i remove the RB icon from the desktop it stays cleared in the folder but as soon as i place it on there again all the files show back up again. i dont understand what this means. does this mean they are still there or does this mean they have successfully been deleted. for now im just going to keep the icon off the desktop. i use a shredder now anyways to remove any files i no longer use but i would like to fix this problem


New Member
Ok.. Where to begin.. let's see... ok! (this is kinda long sorry)

I have 2 drives on my PC. Drive C: is a backup drive just for holding data. Drive D: is where vista resides and is my default drive. Yes I know it's weird but when I initially got vista I accidently put it on C: which was my old xp drive I had all my music and such on. drive C: had no space on it after install. My other drive, D:, was a clean formatted 200gb drive that it was meant to be on. Somehow I chose the wrong drive to install vista on and fubared it. Since I had not activated vista yet I just reinstalled it on D: drive and defaulted to boot from it. All was well on D:, it booted up and ran just fine for the last year, absolutely no issues with anything amazingly. No compatibility issues, no hardware troubles, no gaming troubles etc.

Now I had all my files on C: that I wanted to keep (mp3's, videos, pics) along with the system files for a botched vista install. The install was functional and workign but I didn't want to format that drive again. I wanted to delete these cause it was wasting a lot of space. I proceeded to delete them only to find out I couldn't. For some reason I did NOT have permission to delete these files. Ok. So I go into permissions for the entire C: drive and grant myself full permissions on everything and let it do it it's thing. When it finished I tried to delete them for good and it STILL said I had no permissions... Ok. So I start going into these subfolders individually deleting whatever I could. This worked but it still wouldn't let me delete the parent directory.

I *think* it was after I tried deleting some stuff within the 'programs' folder on C: that the recycle bin took a crap on me. "recycle bin on C: is corrupted. Would you like to empty the recycle bin now?" yes | no... yes? error... error same one error, and it opened the bin. nothing was in it. I closed it, double clicked it again, error error 'recycle bin on C: corrupted.." blah blah.. Why is it trying to use C:'s recycle bin? GrRrRrR... I tried the steps here but they weren't the same thing. it wasn't a permissions issue so it seems.

All I was trying to do was delete 15gb's worth of system files left over from a vista file on my backup drive. I deleted the $Recycle.bin folder. I closed all the windows and went back to the folder and it had a recycle bin icon there so whatever I did to mess it up was fixed by simply right clicking the icon in the $recycle.bin folder and choosing "restore previous versions" option. I had 3 items listed under today's date. I tried each of these and none fixed the problem. I then tried to restore the item from yesterday, clicking yes yes to whatever dialog popped up, and booya! Now my recycle bin is working and not throwing up the errors anymore. The restore file or whatever it was was 599mb so I think it was some of the system files on drive C: that for some reason prevented my recycle bin on D: to fuction properly.

Now I need to find out how to get rid of those files properly. I don't know why it won't let me delete program files, windows, program files (x86), programs, or any of the other files that don't need to be on a non booting drive...


Vista Guru
Hi and welcome to the Vista forums!

Just a question first:
What is the free space on D:\ and the space occupied by your datas on C:\ ?
If you have enough space to backup your datas on D:\, that would allow you to format C:\ and then copy back your datas on the C drive.


New Member
Wow nice, I got this one file stuck in the $Recycle.Bin for a while and it was definitely wasting my space. Well I just want to thank you for this guide


New Member
Here is my problem. I have a full recycle bin. I empty it. The icon still shows it's full, although the folder is empty. I hit F5, the icon returns to an empty one. I then load the RB with unwanted files. RB Folder is full, but the RB icon is an RB empty icon. I hit F5 as suggested, the icon is corrected. The problem is I always have to hit F5 to correct the situation.

I decided to go a step further and follow "How to Fix a Corrupted Recycle Bin in Vista" as explained above and found out I don't even have a $RECYCLE.BIN folder under C or any other hard drive I have. Yes "show hidden files etc" is checked in folder options.

Any tips?



New Member
No help for me...when i try to empty recycle bin "empty recycle bin" is still gray.I tryed to empty it with your tuturial,but when i deleted some files it turns back to previous state.can i fix this permanently?
Sorry for my bad english...


Staff member
LOL, your welcome Darcoolio. I'm just happy that it is working for you now.



Thanks Shawn. Everywhere else I looked (via Google) wanted me to download a utility of some sort. I did have to un-check the Hide protected Operating System file to see the Recycle Bin... but it worked. Thanks again.