We often take the recycle Bin for granted – like a Genie who can magically retrieve your files. However, what if the Recycle Bin doesn’t have your deleted files? Where did the deleted file disappear? And how can you recover deleted files that are not in the Recycle Bin? This article will provide solutions for retrieving a file that is not in the Recycle Bin.
Why Do Files Go Missing From the Recycle Bin?
The Recycle Bin is the first filter that protects your data from total loss, ensuring safe recovery in cases of accidental file deletion. Its little wastebasket icon sits on the Desktop, acting as a ‘holding bay’ for files that you press ‘Delete’ on.
When a deleted file is not visible in the Recycle Bin, the following reasons could be why:
- You used Shift + Delete to delete the files.
- Files got deleted through the Command Prompt.
- The removed files were on a flash drive.
- The computer settings use the option Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin.
- You emptied the recycle bin.
- The recycle bin is full or corrupted.
- The deleted files are much larger than the maximum size of the recycle bin.
- The deleted files or folders are hidden and can’t be accessed.
Some Quick Fixes When Files Disappear from the Recycle Bin
Now that you have noticed that your deleted files are not in the recycle bin, what’s next? Before you try to retrieve your files from an empty Recycle Bin, it is best to fix the problem. The next few steps will help you prevent files from disappearing from the Recycle Bin.
Fix 1: For a Disabled Recycle Bin
Sometimes, the Recycle Bin in Windows is disabled. If this happens, you will not see any files there.
To solve this:
- Check settings for the Recycle Bin. Right-click on the ‘Recycle Bin’ icon on the desktop and select Properties in the menu that appears.
- Navigate to the Recycle Bin Tools tab and click on Recycle Bin properties.
- Open the Recycle Bin and go to the General tabs section.
- As indicated in the screenshot, check the correct setting.
Fix 2: For a Smaller Recycle Bin
A small Recycle Bin has a lower capacity. When it is full, it deletes older files to make space for the newly deleted files. That’s why it is crucial to increase the size of Recycle Bin to its maximum capacity.
Here’s how you can increase the capacity of the Recycle Bin:
- Open the Recycle Bin properties window as in the previous fix.
- Go to Settings for selected location and note the maximum size for the deleted files in the Recycle Bin.
- If the size is too small, expand it and click on Apply and then Ok to save the new settings.
Fix 3: Hidden Files or Folders in the Recycle Bin
Some files in the Recycle Bin cannot be accessed because they are hidden.
- Open Windows File Explorer by double-clicking on the corresponding desktop icon or by pressing Windows key + E.
- On the Menu Bar, go to the View tab.
- Click on Options in the main panel of this tab then click on Change folder and search options.
- Navigate to the View tab and check the Show hidden files, folders, or drives option.
- Now, all files, including hidden ones, will be displayed in the File Explorer.
Fix 4: For a Damaged Recycle Bin
If the above steps haven’t helped, then the next step is to reset the Recycle Bin.
- Open the Windows File Explorer and go to the system drive C:/.
- Find the hidden folder $Recycle.Bin and delete it. You can use the Command Prompt with administrator rights to reset the Recycle Bin.
- Search for CMD or command.
- Right-click on the Command Prompt app and select Run as administrator in the menu.
- Allow the command prompt to open with administrator rights.
- Type the following command – rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin and press Enter.
- Close the command prompt window and restart your computer.
How to Recover Deleted Files Not Visible in the Recycle Bin
Two solutions will help you restore files that are not in the Recycle Bin. Follow our step-by-step methods to retrieve your files quickly.
Method 1: Retrieving Files Using Windows Backup and Restore
This method only works if you have already set up Windows Backup and Restore.
Windows Backup helps you create copies of your files from time to time to make sure that you can always restore them. If you have used the Windows Backup feature to create backups, you can retrieve files with the following steps:
- Connect your backup storage media to your Windows PC.
- Go to settings by pressing Windows key + I key combination.
- Select Update & Security and then Backup.
- Then click on Go to Backup & Restore (Windows 7).
- Click on Restore my Files.
There is yet another method to recover deleted files from recycle bin. This method accesses the previous version of files using restore.
The Previous Version feature – which is a part of the Volume shadow service creates a restore point that helps roll back changes. It maintains a file history to help retrieve files and folders even if the recycle bin is empty or you shift-deleted them.
Here’s how to restore files using File History:
- Go to the folder that used to have the deleted file and right-click. Now click Restore previous versions. An option to recover the folder will appear.
- Search for the deleted file from the list of available previous versions and click Restore.
In case you don’t see Restore Previous Versions upon right-clicking, implement the following steps.
- Turn on System Protection from the Control Panel.
- On the left side of the bar, click on System & Security > System > System Protection.
- Available drives will show up with corresponding protection.
- Select a particular drive and click on configure.
- Click on restore system settings and previous versions of files then click on Ok.
You will now have the option to recover files in the future.
These are the inbuilt features for Windows 10 that can help you restore files that have been deleted from the recycle bin. However, if your files have been deleted from a different location, you must use a data recovery tool.
Method 2: Use a Data Recovery Tool
When the inbuilt tools for Windows are not yielding results, you will have to use reliable data recovery software. A top-rated and reliable data recovery tool is Disk Drill Data Recovery. We will use it to illustrate how to recover deleted files not in the Recycle Bin.
The data recovery market is quite diverse, and selecting one particular tool might be nerve-wracking. Here’s a drill-down of the top 10 tools out there.
Remember that your Recycle Bin is located on your main disk drive (often the C drive by default).
- Download the tool. Open the official website for Disk Drill to download the setup and install it on an external drive to avoid further data loss. Give Disk Drill administrator privileges, as this is essential for the scanning algorithms to run.
- Launch Disk Drill. Run Disk Drill by double-clicking on its icon or searching for it from the Start Menu. A dialog box will pop up, prompting you to select a drive for recovery. As the Recycle Bin is placed in the main hard drive, select it.
- Start the Scan. Once you select the drive for recovery, choose a scanning algorithm. Disk Drill offers a choice between quick or deep scans, or let the software optimize the algorithms for recovery. Click the Search for lost data button to initiate the scan.
- Choose Files for Recovery. After Disk Drill finishes scanning, it shows you a window with all the files it has found. You can now filter the results to narrow it to the files you want to recover. Disk Drill will prompt you to select a recovery location, make sure you choose a storage location, that is not your main drive to avoid file corruption or data being overwritten.
- Restore Deleted Files from Recycle Bin. Once you select the files for recovery, click on the Recover button. Disk Drill will save all the retrieved lost files to your new storage location.
You can move the restored files to a newer location if you so desire, and continue using your computer as always.
Check out this comprehensive review of Disk Drill – which features everything you need to know about this tool.
Tips To Increase Chances of Recovery And Prevent Future Data Loss
Here are some helpful tips and best practices to prevent file deletion:
Always Ensure That You Confirm the Deletion of a File
Encountering a dialog box that requires you to confirm file deletion can help prevent the accidental deletion of files. This box might not always be visible.
To make Windows display a confirmation dialog, follow these steps:
- Right click on the Recycle Bin and click on Properties.
- Click on the General tab.
- Check whether the Display delete confirmation dialog is enabled, and toggle it on if not.
- You will now be prompted to confirm the deletion of files.
Make the Recycle Bin Visible
The Recycle Bin stores deleted files, but what if its icon is also missing? By default, the desktop should show you a shortcut for the Recycle Bin. However, if you are unable to see the Recycle Bin, follow these steps:
- Click on the Start button, or press the Windows key.
- Select Settings.
- Click on Personalisation > Themes > Desktop settings.
- Make sure that the Recycle Bin checkbox is toggled on and click on Apply.
Change How Long a File Remains in the Recycle Bin Before Being Erased
Windows keeps files in the Recycle Bin for 30 days by default or until its space is exceeded. This might not be suitable for you if you are deleting many files or large files.
Here’s how you can modify this setting:
- Right-click on the Start Menu and select System and then Storage
- Click on the Change how we free up space automatically button.
- Select the length of time that you prefer the most.
Although files are deleted from the Recycle Bin, they still physically exist on the hard drive. They remain there until overwritten by new data. Once overwritten, the only recovery method is by using backup storage media.
A deleted file stays in the Recycle Bin for 30 days. After that, it will be automatically deleted from the Recycle Bin.
Windows 10 comes with Storage Sense, a feature designed to automate drive maintenance. It includes an option to empty the Recycle Bin automatically while keeping the most recent files if you need them back.
When Storage Sense is turned on, it clears One Drive locally & makes them online-only. Do check OneDrive & its own recycle bin for such deleted files.
There are two ways you can stop recycle bin from automatically deleting files.
Method #1 – Get Rid of the Task Scheduler Assuming you already have a task for the Recycle Bin to auto empty, simply delete this task and the auto-deletion will halt.
Method 2 – Alter Your Recycle Bin Settings
- Open the Settings app. Navigate to System > Storage.
- Click on Change how we free up space. Now, uncheck the second option: delete files that have been in the recycle bin for over 30 days.
Now your Recycle Bin will stop deleting files automatically.
The recovery process is broadly similar except for one difference – the presence of ‘Storage Sense’ on Windows 10. When turned on, the Storage sense automatically removes temporary files and files in the recycle bin that are older than 30 days. It clears the files locally, but the recovery process is similar to files deleted by the user & not Storage Sense.
The bottom line is that there are quite a few ways to deal with a deleted file not in the Recycle Bin. Usually, the files are either hidden or not accessible but can be recovered through several methods. Speedy responses and data recovery software can help you recover files before new data overwrite them.
Joshua is a content curator for Handy Recovery. His expertise involves taking intricate IT concepts and breaking them down into super easy to understand chunks. He’s been wielding the writing sword for quite some time now - 3 years to be precise. Digital marketing, data recovery, and anything “techy” are Joshua’s niches.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.